Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anger and Indignation

Also old, 2007.

I am sitting, squatting, wind blowing, on the tank of my ancestral home, overlooking a mosque, 5 houses, a well and a mental hospital. It has been a while, a long while since I last wrote. Actually I'm scribbling more than writing. Across from me is this tree that bears this fruit that this boy, 17 hopefully, sells on the main road. He can write, or so i gather, and maybe he goes to school. But while I have the luxury of squatting on a tank in my ancestral home, he's inhaling exhaust fumes on the main road.

Some things I will never understand. They hurt to think about.

How are rich people, or even decently well off people, that drive across/over poor people on the streets, still able to look at themselves in the mirror without flinching? Doesn't some part of them scream? What that coconut boy does is not easy. He works hard. Why do i get to live here and he on the street? WHy do boys with shaved heads and awful infections, dribbling noses and pot bellies crawl upto people and ask them for money?
yeah i know, because they havent any. a rhetorical question dear reader.

These are questions oft asked and seldom anwered. They'd break my heart if I let them and then NLS would have one student less.

Really. What humans have done to this planet, no one can equal. You dont need me to tell u that. Everybody already knows. But everybody thinks "what if I switch off lights and fans? What difference can one person make?"

I dont @$#%^&* know. What if you did that and so did 10 of your friends and so did ten of theirs eh? what then?? maybe if you just took SUM TIME to look BEYOND YOURSELF and looked across the street and were kind to someone or spat in a bin instead of at someones feet or something... maybe then the "world" would be a better place and maybe then we'd have a better chance of survival, CAUSE THE WAY IT IS RIGHT NOW, I DONT SEE US GOING TOO FAR.

And thats the crux of it btw. Save not the World you have to. the "world" is YOUR world. the people around you. you dont have to be a hero and do a medha phatkar. i'l do that for you. just be a little more aware and a little less cynical and a little kinder.

thats all

Womankind's Curse?

My writing here is heavily influence by my reading on the subject. Not much of this is original. The language is, however, mine.

Admittedly, I’m not too fond of getting my period. There’s just too much tension and nervousness, checking and changing involved. It’s this huge issue- you stain your bed, which means you stain your sheets, the bed cover, your panties and sometimes even your mattress. God help you if you stain your host’s sheets. The embarrassment and desperate scrubbing constitute a royal pain. With time, you learn to sleep on your side, spread towels underneath, “clean up” afterwards.

All the time you’re wearing either tampons or sanitary towels.
Tampons keep the stuff that’s supposed to come out, in, defeating the purpose of the whole affair. Sanitary towels [diapers for you- oh insensitive male/ pad hating female] become a hot bed, literally, for bacteria as well a source of great discomfort.

Stocking up involves watching a wo/man hide your preferred instrument-of-control beneath layers of plastic and/or newspaper.

Over the years I have grown tired of this routine and now refuse to let the wo/man satisfy her/his sense of “decency”. Usually s/he looks on in horror as I whip the package out of her/his hand and saunter down the road barely stopping myself from holding it high in the air. I can’t help but not be discrete you see. And why am I required to be discrete?

Why am I required to furtively tuck a pad under my shirt, or in the pocket of my jeans or what-have-you when I need to change? Why am I kept out of temples? What’s UNCLEAN or shameful about getting your period?

Menstrual fluid is 2/3rd blood and 1/3rd the stuff that composed of the lining of a woman’s uterus. It’s not smelly or unclean like urine. The reason you get the smell is because of the bacteria that thrive inside your panties when you wear the pads. It’s normal to pee, to ejaculate- but getting your period is gross, unpleasant, something you don’t talk about, a pain.

It also makes the WOMAN unclean for that period. She can’t enter temples because she’ll render them unclean. Like they’re pristine pure otherwise.
It’s not like the bleeding woman who entered your place of worship is not taking measures to hide that fact anyway. It’s not like she’s letting the blood drip onto your precious idols, or your furniture or your cloth or whatever else it is, that is not rendered “impure” or “unclean” when a man scratching his testicles or a kid with unwashed hands fresh from a trip to the toilet touches it. [You're telling me washing your hands with water before entering the temple makes it any better?]

There are alternatives to pads and tampons. Visit this links for ideas.
Here's a link to women on whether they would stop menstruating if they could.

I don’t know what it’ll take for people to treat menstruation as a normal, regular, HEALTHY, POSITIVE occurrence and not something that has to be covered up, all evidence destroyed. Hygiene and cleanliness is one thing. It’s essential. What is not essential is treating something that’s not dirty as dirty. If you let yourself bleed freely, and let the bloody dry up, you’re actually being cleaner than when you wear pads. I’m not suggesting that women worldwide wander around butt-naked while menstruating. That’s impossible, at least at present. I’m saying they consider letting themselves stain “menstrual clothes” freely at home and wash afterwards or something. Basically, look at alternatives. Heaven knows I’d be a lot more comfortable if I didn’t have to wear pads 24*7.

Here, by the way, is why it is a positive occurrence. Getting your period means you’re not pregnant, it means you’re healthy and normal, and you’re not going to have a baby keeping you up at night. No gynea visits or pills or diet changes.

I’m going to stop complaining and saying things like “why does this happen to women” and “periods are such a pain” now. Because getting my period means I’m capable of giving birth. And that’s pretty darn amazing.
Of course, not everything I've said applies to women that have painful periods, I thankfully don't]

The Flip Side

I grudge some women a few things. I grudge hypocritical feminists. They taint the movement and the concept. I’m not pretending I know everything there is to know about feminism. Tried educating myself, got irritated and bored.

My version revolves around equality and liberation. Men and women are human beings, and we’re equal. If men are stronger physically, women are more emotionally mature at an earlier age. One balances the other. Ultimately, neither is superior. Women are bound by a lot of social norms- of modesty [the other kind], of genteelness blah blah. Load o crap.

This is my problem. On one hand, you want to vote, you want social norms that inconvenience you to fade away. But are you willing to be treated equally in every respect? Are you willing to be rough housed when you get into the army? Are you willing to give up ladies seats and pay for your meals? You can’t ask for equality and want special treatment too. That’s hypocritical.
[Some women btw, take more shit than required to prove themselves. It’s something that, apparently, needs to be done to earn respect from generations of socialized, blind men. A guy slacks off at work, the boss might overlook it. One wrong step from the woman, and it’s proof she ought to have stayed home and wiped her baby’s bottom. A thing of the past you say.. agreed, but only where women aren’t an uncommon sight. What do you reckon will happen when women start driving buses and cutting up meat? “Tere bas ki nahin hai”. That’s what. Other women, of course, will bat their lashes and threaten to cry.]

You’re not extra special woman. Womankind is not superior to mankind. We’re oppressed, we’re wonderful, but we can pay for our meals, we can stand in buses, we should be prepared to be treated equally in the boxing ring, in the sports field, in corporate houses, in the court.

Chivalry in particular, I don’t stand for it. I think it’s disrespectful to me, I think it’s unfair to the guy. I don’t want chivalry. If being chivalrous makes you feel like a gentleman, go ahead. Don’t expect me to be grateful or think better of you for it. Don’t expect me to accept it as adequate compensation for exclusion from “a man’s world”. I HATE that phrase.
My version says chivalry is over-rated and ought not to be expected. Why do you want doors opened and bags lifted eh? If you’re capable of doing the same work as he does, you should be able to carry your own bags.
Why can the girl not make the first move? Why is that haw ji? Women won’t let you, btw. The guys’ll be thanking their stars they were saved the trouble and females will say- AQSEER! You don’t DO that? Arre why?
It’s almost as if some women don’t want to be liberated. It’s almost as if they like being bound with norms and traditions. There’s this big confusion between femininity and being treated as fragile. I’m a woman, to be womanly I must be treated like I’m made of glass. But oh no, don’t take any opportunities away from me. Give me those and keep treating me like I’m made of glass. I’m a woman na.. that’s why. Bollocks.

Start acting equal, start acting liberated, and somewhere down the line, you’ll be treated that way. Don’t go running to your coach crying when you get hurt, grit your teeth and deal with it. Like the guys do.

Palm Corpse

He fit into the palm of her emaciated hands. He should have been as big as her forearms, but there he was. Like a palm baby. She knelt over him, her hair matted, her belly distended, rocking back and forth, trying to keep her coughing infant alive.

We passed her and one of us did a double take. The double-taker told us there was a pregnant 13 year old on the pavement with a tiny dying child in her arms. We looked at the pair of them and gasped, then went on to have flavoured milk a few steps away. I couldn't get the image of that tiny baby out of my head, so I bought a bag of milk so the mother could drink it and breast feed the baby. Milk handed over, we went on our way.

Coming home I cursed myself for not having done more. My grandmum had given me a ton of money for diwali and I had bought em a packet of milk, nothing more. The least I could have done, I thought, was give her Rs. 500.

But then I thought the Rs. 500 would last her a few days only, so I decided to try and get them to a shelter. Called up some NGOs, found a place that might take the pair of them.

Went back the next day to look for palm baby and his mother, I couldn't find them anywhere. So I asked a jhola seller if she knew about them.
Was the baby really that woman's I asked. Thats all it took to get her started.

That woman told me more than I learnt about begging in the course of researching for my project.

So the woman was rocking back and forth because she was high on smack. The baby was dying because the woman wasn't his mother, she fed him milk people like me gave her instead of breast feeding him, and he couldn't/can't digest it. The palm baby was given to the lady by her sister. The strategy was to use the baby to "earn" money, and then split the earnings.

She told me that that lady and other beggars duped people, and those that were naive and had a heart gave them money. They duped, she said, not to earn a living, but to blow up whatever they earned (anything from Rs. 500 to 1500 a day) on smack. The palm baby lady even stole money from other beggars. If I'd have given her Rs. 500, thats where it would have gone. (She added ruefully that she engaged in honest labour and didn't earn that much in days.)

So I asked her, what if I asked the police to take the baby away? She said the police doesn't do much because they can't do much. If they take dupers into custody, the addicts start to die without their drugs and the officers are questioned by their superiors.
So, I said, the superiors really tick them off for not showing daya to the beggars? Oh yes, she says.

So, I said, this kid is going to die eh? She said yeah, they'll find another the day after this one goes. India's future she said- the educated higher class people are blowing up their lives on expensive nasha; the uneducated, poverty stricken people are blowing up their's, and their children's lives on cheaper nasha.

Thus, palm corpse. Palm baby's going to turn into palm corpse from diarrhoea in a few days.

I asked her if the beggars at the traffic light at least were earning honourably, so to speak. She said they pretend to sell stuff to you, and when you look away, they steal. What about the magazine sellers, I asked. She said they don't steal, they sell to survive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Women On the Street

It's inevitable methinks. Tell women that the odds of them getting raped on the streets are as high as the probability that a bomb blast will kill em, and they will freak.

Have you noticed women on the street? For the women, have you noticed yourselves? I have, and its freaky cause even on a good, happy day, on the road, I resemble a bull ready to gore someone. My fists ball up, my nose is flaring in retaliation to some unprovoked (as yet) incident and boy am I striding. March, march, march; look like you'll hit if someone tries to rape you; look pissed off; stare back if some ash-ole stares at you.

It's like I'm programmed. But it isn't that at all is it? It's not that I do these things cause I have some button in my head that flicks when I'm out alone.
Sadly enough, I do these things cause I'm genuinely afraid I'm going to make the news tomorrow.

A very close friend of mine recently did btw. All the more reason to purchase a swiss knife early.

Interesting site, this- http://blog.blanknoise.org/