To think out of my box

Slowly, as the world pushes you into feeling and behaving like an adult, for me it comes as a whole task to gulp that down. I still feel outcast when my homies call out to the children at home to get some ice-cream at a near by shop, and I’m not among them. You are now supposed to make small talk with any relative you may not like, it is bad to walk away, something you could do as a child. As a child or a teenager, I always resolved to not change much when I grow up. I wanted to remain unbiased towards everything as I was then. But we all know – we grow up to those, our biases, our choices, our comfort zones.

A teacher in my high school once asked us ‘Children, like now you all don’t discriminate amongst each other to be friends on the basis of religion, but when you grow up, why do you change?’. At that point I happened to feel sure, I wouldn’t change, neither will these other teenagers around me. But you know what may have happened by now. Not so much for religion though, I happened to grow to a very strong cultural bias.

It was a mental block created over a period of time to be culturally conservative. Most of the times I hated the culture of taking safe decisions in life rather get any closer to pre-defined risks. I was to opt for a more stable career path like engineering instead of architecture or arts, which did not assure a job in those times. Then after a graduate degree I was supposed to find a job or get married, a possibility of higher education did not occur to us as it was just too much already that I was doing the graduation. With smaller ambitions, put in shape with time, facilitated with least exposure to outer world or other people with bigger ambitions – I graduated. Internet was available then, but not as much as in the metros at that time. And we weren’t boys to get the access if required, cause for them it is justified to seek answers in our culture.

My story goes on just like many other girls here, but the cultural bias how it affects the ambitions we inculcate, is something I often contemplate.

As a teenager, and even in early 20s, watching USA in movies as a place of free-thoughts and free-will, and even having close relatives there, it did not ever excite me to be there. I was a always a independence hungry girl, rebellious in all the ways, but yet culturally curbed. Growing up in India, I always thought the independence I seek, is possible in this country itself, why go abroad ? I thought I just need to be financially independent to get away from parents’ interference in my life. I know, I was naive. Indian parents never will think they have no business with you after you are 18. Since they gave birth to you, they have the right over your life- right until your own children get married or if life is generous, even the grandchildren! after a struggle to find yourself amidst the pressure to get married, even if you succeed to find yourself a career you love, you will, well .. get married one day. All this had not ever occurred to me earlier that making a decision to remain in india and not go abroad will cut down my circle of life to such a small circumference.

It is only after years, when you see the world around you thinking differently about matter, is when it strikes – did I cut down my opportunities to grow?

I have by now spent some years working with Americans or Europeans on various projects, and for a designer’s job, I constantly required to think outside the Indian mindset of things. May be I’m more deeply devoured by the indian-ness than many others, and that is what disgusts me. No matter how I hate playing safe at all times, I’m unconsciously doing so with my career plans or even life plans. I often question myself, had it been different if I took a bold step to go study abroad ? taken the heart to pursue education in what I believed to be the right thing for me ? I’ve always made decisions to stay in this comfort zone, where the terrain and people and their behaviors remain same, no matter what. I’ve always felt the discomfort to move outside it. I still think of all those NRIs I’ve know as someone ignorant and an outsider to culture of this country. I feel proud at times that I know more about my country’s roots that they will ever know or care for. But their life has possibilities that I may not face. They don’t need to feel connected or worried about this country. So is my patriotism just an excuse ? may be it is.

My manager would constantly echo this on our conversations – ‘In America, this is how we do it, you must think on those lines’. I don’t think it applies to my profession, because i’m mostly involved with the web, which is same for the US or India, or is it ? In any case, I do not refer to indian web as much for inspiration or cognition of solutions, as it is plainly not good at it yet. But there are many a times, I happen to think like an indian, the temptations like coming to work and not working, and leaving early. Indians were never very hard working types when they get paid reasonably. Look at the classes of society, the poorly paid work the hardest. Is it the sub-continent weather ? or are we just genetically easy-money hungry ?

Or may be because I’m just an artist and yearn to spend afternoons painting in a huge studio, instead of breaking my head on a corporate software solution. The Business world always brings this feeling of inferiority in me, of being incompetent. It makes me long to go and create a different niche somewhere and stay out of touch – in my box.

Hindu (Managers’) Stupidity

To begin with, I’m a Hindu myself. This post points to the Hindu community which has a history of not respecting or believing in itself, which vows to remain strikingly stupid!

I have immense respect for this religion, with even its diversities and differences, it has always been a symbol for wisdom. The kind of wisdom where the sciences, mathematics or even Kama-sutra was invented. Out-wardly it proves to be the most tolerant and spiritually gifted clan. Or that is what I want to believe, given my own reasoning. It is also supposedly the birth-giver to the infamous caste-system, which has essentially passed on over to other religions all over India from Hinduism. You don’t believe ? watch this to know, there is caste-system in each and every community in India, because everyone has been converted at some point.

Coming to the point, this community has always been stupid enough to let anybody else lead them, brainwash them. They could never be wise enough to respect their own riches of knowledge or wisdom. They have constantly been raided and looted by invaders over the centuries, coaxed into converting, forced to labor. At least this you believe right ? These however, are facts from the past. They have eventually established the virtues of their gray matter at home and overseas and world-wide. But this, at the cost of a cultural topsy-turvy.

I’m here really angered by those who have soared so high in their careers and societal statures, but never have defended their own culture. I agree the culture has eventually deformed in number of ways, but how many of you know the history of it ? Sadly most of us believe more in the deformations of this rich culture than its original version.

I question all those permanent residents of western countries, how many good things about your culture do you convey to the people abroad? do you think you are entitled enough to bad-mouth your own country in a foreign land? Did it occur to you that you may be mis-informed to make those statements ? Do you realize the purdah-ghunghat system you despise was something induced much later in this culture, and for what reasons ? Can you even tell why Holi or Diwali is celebrated in a certain way ?

Coming to the people residing in India itself. You are a shame if you have never contemplated over the questions above, as if spitting in your own plate wasn’t bad enough, talk about disrespect! You do not respect your own culture. Why am I questioning all this out of nowhere ? It is because years of observation of our metro-city-culture. As the industrialization happened, our constant need for business increased, we transformed from manufacturing industries into MNCs and a dominant IT sector. Now think about the principles how our MNCs work. They clearly disregard your need to be like yourself, sound like yourself, and even wear like you want, so now you can’t of course ask about celebrating your own festivals. Ya I get it, we will do business only how I customer pleases. But tell me, shouldn’t this argument be buried when indian industry has soared those heights world wide? we are known everywhere now, so are our characteristics. Why do we still try to hide them ?

I have everything against the Indian management sector. The Manager, HR or technology or anyone in that managerial position. Why have you never had the damn guts to tell those foreigners that you have a life here! Your need to celebrate ‘Diwali’ is as important as their’s to take a whole month off for ‘Christmas’ ?? We anyway merely ask for a week to celebrate the most important festival, not a month. But denied that too. And why do you argue that the westerners do not have as many festivals to celebrate like indians, when we know none of us even know what half of them are or how to celebrate even a few of them! Why do you never think twice before canceling out a ‘Sankranti‘ or ‘Holi‘ or ‘Dusshera‘ from the holiday list, while easily giving official offs to ‘Good Friday’, ‘Eid’ or ‘Christmas’ holidays ?

I do not wish to start thinking that ‘may be the managers are all non-hindus’, my guess is it can’t be possible. Hindus are still the majority in India and not all managers can be possibly non-hindus to have missed on importance of Hindu festivals. The culprits are hindus themselves, no one else. You constantly try to show off, that it is not important enough for you to be home on Diwali, but you will know exactly when a ‘Thanksgiving’ or a ‘Halloween’ is celebrated. The joke is on you, the young generation now has no clue about our rituals or festivals. They do guess work to even blurt out the names of the important days. On the contrary, they know it all about Christmas, Halloween or Thanksgiving! Infact, they may have never attempted to play ‘Holi’ the way it should be because it isn’t hygienic but will readily agree to do a ‘La-tomatina’ after watching bollywood stars doing it.

Isn’t that is why the English ever were able to rule us ? you thought they were so majestic, wiser than you, and classier, and slowly let them become your rulers. Shame on us, this hasn’t changed. All those NRIs, the westerners know how much you loath your own country and its traditions. I’m aware we have the worst kind of politics in rule, and the culture has deformed into a conservative and narrow-minded body, but how much do you wish to change it?

Did you ever try to get to the roots and see where it got this deformed face ? If you would have, you would never question the beauty of ‘Sankranti’ or ‘Holi’ or ‘Diwali’, you would never keep from expressing its importance to this community. You are plainly killing it in the name of getting business relations.

The Uncouth Indian

As far as I can remember, growing up in this country I have learnt to let the strongly routed patriarchal culture pass through me. It really has come in from a long way, with longer time till it stays, until we may be able to uproot it.

The Indian culture from ancient times, like from the earliest times, suggests a very bold and wise culture, a very open minded settlement. Known as a land of wisdom, where people have come full circle in life to realize the ironies of it, and set their priorities right. Those times are known to have the wisest Rishi-munis and Saints, who had everything figured out. literally! The Vedic texts, the maths, the science .. they just had it all figured. The Chanakya era, known for its progressive lifestyle of a kingdom. From various studies it appears the ancient indian sub-continent was very open-minded about their women, ranging from their influence in the society-to how they dressed. Kama-sutra is one such huge example of the advancement of this society. There are even Sanskrit texts that have stories with women protagonists who were very open about their relationships with men, stuff like extra-maritals and multiple partners. By advancement I mean exactly what you are questioning in your head? a character-less woman ? My stupid dear, what does character mean to you ? I’m certainly not interested in your definitions of character, but for me it is the sole quality of a human to survive at his will, with may be some integrity which won’t involve hurting others. That is all, no amount of relationship graph can possibly define someone’s character.

It occurred in the mid-century where some numb-nuts thought a peaceful world is not good enough. They did not mean to find meaning in life, instead they wanted to take away everyone else’s peace of mind, and control as much as they could. I’m referring to the Alexanders & Mughals who started the trend to invade the peaceful sub-continent. Not that within sub-continent there weren’t negative elements, but most of it was outsiders. I’m basically suggesting we always have the dim-wits who do not get reason or logic.  So these invasions caused the sub-continent to protect their women against assault, they required to hide them and cover them, in order to protect that pride-respect associated with a family or clan.

Up north of India had dramatic changes in the culture of open-mindedness, women could no longer wear single shoulder drapes hugging their bodies, showing off their beautiful curves, no longer bathe in open rivers and ponds and walk out wet to entice strange men. They could no longer be treated as equal to men, as they desperately required protection of men, they could not support or defend themselves, they were refrained from being themselves i.e. being free humans. All this only because the women have a little slit down under, which happens to be creator of life, the biggest power known to this world. Thus, it has been speculated many a times, that a patriarchal society originates from this fear, that if a women can give birth, she can have the greater power. The only way a man finds his solace is by having control over this possible threat to his false-ego – The woman. Constantly over a period of time, women were deprived of gaining wisdom through any means, education or interaction, were continually made to believe they were the weaker sex, they can’t survive without the stupid Adam. And c’mon! we have this woman in all of us. What? you don’t agree? you definitely need a man to control that thought about independence. Without a man , you are nothing, at least in this country. (being sarcastic.. duh!)

And of course, the men have continually been taught to be all-mighty and the big power all this while. Why are you disappointed if you yourself have been participating in this. All women I’ve known have constantly believed in themselves to be something to be protected, and fearing if its intruded upon. Its all these women.. our mothers, our grandmothers, mother-in-laws who constantly instruct their daughters and daughter-in-laws to behave in certain ways in order to protect that imaginary and glorified pride. This Pride has been over-rated, over centuries.

Why a woman’s pride must be tagged to that of an entire Clan or family ?

why is she constantly burdened to be carrying that weight, even though she is supposed to be weakest of all others ?

why is she made to feel ashamed if she lost that pride due to an un-called for event ?

Why must she feel she is capable of losing her pride at all, or anyone else’s ?

Ask yourself, and I hope this generation of mothers or grandmothers who have instilled this belief in us are reading such posts online, to reflect upon themselves, their education, the values they pass on to their daughters. What about sons? you definitely wouldn’t instill good values in your son if you haven’t for your daughters.

You are the culprit. You always let other’s interest stand over your own self-respect. You always have been dumb enough to let them make you weaker. This is because of your slight need for comfort or may I say .. laziness. Of course you like to be treated as a princess.. just like men like to be the King, but don’t you think you need to have some pride of your own to go with it ?

Men have succeeded in making you believe that his pride is a natural occurrence and yours isn’t. You are someone who just needs to follow his pride and lose yours on the way. That isn’t collaboration, that is slavery. Giving the argument about being physically weaker than men, is another scam. Eat well, and keep trained, nothing with a hanging organ can ever do anything to you. Not even when you are leaking with red.

It saddens me to have such mothers and mother-in-laws myself. In my mid-twenties my mother had once instructed me to protect my virginity, as she thought it was horrendous to lose it to someone you won’t marry. Many social stigmas behind that, that you can’t question. My mother-in-law constantly wants me to cover my face and hide in the back-room of the house, as people outside the house may just have a glimpse of me, and since I hold the pride of the household, no free-shows! The Karwa Chauth being the most dim-wit kind of fast invented by the north indians. I mean why in the world must I refrain from food and water for an entire day for the husband ? for that matter Roza for Ramzan sounds better, as then you fast in the name of God atleast. oh oh .. the husband is supposed to be our God you mean ? .. ah now I get that. well ..fuck that! And if I do not fast for your son, it is a matter of worry for you, because it possibly holds a threat to his long life is it ? ohh.. poor that you actually believe that crap. I’m a women, I can control birth of a life, not finish it. duh.

That does it. I do not mean to carry any dim-witted cultural stigmas and rituals into the next generation. I quit being this weak woman. What happened in Delhi lately, will not change unless you stop being so fearful of it. The man needs to be shown, he possibly cannot make you lose pride. He is not capable of it. And certainly that little tool he has hanging below, isn’t actually a tool that can destroy someone.