Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Pleasure of being a Woman

I remember there used to be this ad of Gujarat Sarees which had this tag-line- 'the pleasure of being a woman'.
Being a kid back then i failed to realize that an aspiring social worker was not supposed to feel good about this, or be taken in by this blatant duping of pleased women! i should have thought of ways of getting back at scheming men and of exposing their patronizing chauvinism...

But, trust me, I have found something that the most stringent, staunch feminists can not argue with!

Just imagine your little brother or sister, and unless you are a Femina-mom (they won't be seen dead in a saree- always in some smart invincible skirt or trousers), your kid, leaving two of your best sarees with the wrong dry-cleaners'! And it's somebody you know! But your woman's intuition tells you not to be at the receiving end of laundry services provided by them.
No smart woman would even think of explaining this colossal blunder and get her sarees back- not even if the Dry Cleaner was a man!
And here the DC is definitely a woman.
A Woman of Substance, at that.
It isn't that on your own you can't get them back, it's just that you wouldn't even think of asking for'em- those thirty seconds of embarassing explanation would clean strip you of ten years' worth of smug superiority and self respect.

It's one of those moments where you are tempted to behave like a friend of mine once did- driving fast along the highway one night she was caught unawares by a rather clumsy and rude pothole. She simply took her hands off the handle bar, clamped her eyes shut with them, and...jumped.
Just like that- couldn't even look at it, let alone try and get the better of it.

And now, when it's actually happening to me i can understand why seeing my mom extricating herself from a similar spot years ago had opened my eyes. And had made me profoundly glad i'd a boy friend who would one day, with the same loyalty and blind love that my dad had once shown, undertake to pull off this feat for his lady love. And bless him- my erstwhile boyfriend and subsequent husband is prone to fits of severe political correctness - he'd do it more easily than even my dad could ever manage.
Can you imagine looking the lady dry cleaner (LDC) in the eye and telling her you don't believe in her magical dry cleaning powers? It's every bit as bad as having to tell the attendant at a super market you simply can't find your favorite brand of bath-freshener there! Not in his weakest moments would he entertain the sinful thought that they may actually not stock the brand. For godssake! supermarkets!!- they stock every brand of everything. Period.
So if you can't find it you should probably start buying your glasses there too.

But get a boy friend, partner, husband- and you've the perfect solution.
Only if you ask me, in this matter of confronting the LDC, boy friends and live-in partners don't have a thing on husbands!
Only a confirmed, dedicated, decade-old, i've-been-through-the-worst kind of husband can produce a look that's both sheepish and authoritative enough at the same time to get a hardened dry-cleaner to surrender sarees that are rightfully hers to dry clean.
A boy friend or a partner just doesn't have what it takes- there's still that aura of freedom, that air of never having been nagged, that i-don't-have-a-mom-in-law sort of gait...that just won't melt a proud husband-owner's kind heart.

When my dad had come home with the cherished sarees rescued, a look of mutual understanding had passed between my mom and me. And what my dad might have taken to be tears of gratitude or happiness, were tears of pure unadulterated relief.
After all, it'd cost my friend no less than a plastic surgery and a month in the hospital to get back into working order!

And we have every reason to be relieved, don't we?
After all, we don't have to be able to put the fear of God into a mere dry cleaner- we simply have to be able to charm politically correct men into marrying us.
Now, that's what I call The Pleasure of being a Woman.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

answering a question on Orkut

hey ppl,
someone'd posted this question on the Orkut community- P Sainath-
"should organized retailing be allowed....."
while replying to it i thought i should let you guys have the benefit of my insight too!
so here goes (my reply as posted on orkut)-

i think we should stop copying our development models from anywhere outside india. why don't we just study and document best practices?
and then work out what's best for our country and its people?
organized retailing if allowed in the current scenario, would spell disaster for our people- they don't have any other skills/education which would be of use to them in earning a living.
and another thing is, it's their right to have an encouraging accommodating atmosphere locally in which to survive and improve.
and the arguments relating to better consumer options and satisfaction are shortsighted and misleading.
simply coz we are all old enough to know that all that is glittering today won't turn out to be gold for us tomorrow.
once retail giants establish themselves, they'd stifle lesser and budding competition n we'd end up having no options.
a case in point is the internet service in America- instead of what European and Asian countries did to keep up competition and efficiency they allowed their s/w giants to rule the market and what the American end-user has in terms of speed, efficiency and options today, is nothing compared to what's available at a click to the Japanese and German end -user!!

But all this consumer satisfaction apart, what kind of facilities are we providing to our small n med traders and retailers today? are we providing them with the requisite infrastructure? or efficient and fast clearance systems? the financial institutions n tax systems best suited for their needs? the red tape, the amount of paper work, the excruciatingly slow pace of paper-progress and the corruption at every level is enough to drive anyboy mad.
are we providing effective and efficient redressal? protection from unregulated or at best, loosely regulated foreign investment n competition- and we've our own indigenously bred sharks too, as we know all too well.

We are not helping our own traders get better, more competitive, smarten up and be able to handle pressure from foreign markets and economies.
but we'll bend over backwards for foreign investors and retailers.
coz' our middle and upper classes with their booming-incomes think it's a smarter move- calculated to catapult them straight into the midst of our revered G-8 nations!!
No, i think we should first think of all sections of our society, do the best we can with and for our own resources and people before inviting outsiders to take over our problems and our golden-egg laying resources, and thereby help us smarten up!

Friday, October 12, 2007

merii aaNkhen

मेरी आँखें

याद कर के मेरी आँखों को,
किसी फूल को कभी चूम लो
इल्तिजा है मेरी, करम इतना ही फ़रमाए-
वो पल मेरे लिए, दम भर वहीं ठहर जाए।
के तेज़ धडकनों की आहटों को,
ज़रा छुपा लूं अपने ख्वाबों से;
जाने यूँ ही प्यार तुम्हे आया हो फूल पे
शर्मिंदा हो ना जाएँ कहीं,
आँखें मेरी, मेरे ख्वाबों से।
इलज़ाम खुदाबंदी का नाज़ुक फूलों पे हो क्यों,
इंसान तो नहीं वो, के मर न जाए is कुफ़्र से।