Sunday, August 13, 2017
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Male dominance was felt only in a few places, and the women were not just educated to prepare them for the ‘marriage market’. I saw women working in banks, selling fish, or just doing a good job making a home. They roamed about freely on two-wheelers too – a rare sight in Delhi, even on Royal Enfield bullets.
Most people kept to themselves. Some still interfered in the lives of others, but judgments were mostly not made and prejudices remained undeveloped.
When we would get out of the railway station, taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers would wrap around us like a swarm of bees, demanding to know where we wanted to go. Making one’s way around them was a task. We would then rent a vehicle from the pre-paid taxi booth in which we would take in the heat and humidity in the absence of an air-conditioner. This would prepare us for what would ensue the rest of the month in the capital.
For me, each place has its own smell. I remember what Delhi smelled like. It was like a pot of burned sweat garnished with diesel and petrol fumes. I felt like the city never slept - although now I know that it does with the increasing crime rate. People seemed enraged about something or the other. Even the school-going children with their huge bags spewed abuses at each other and fought over little things. All this seemed unreal, hateful.
Every other day there was an accident on the road in front of Grandpa’s house. Men would slap each other; they had a hurried demeanor and were always ready for a good fight. Anger seemed to be the pulse of the city. It was nothing like the friendly South Indian town I lived in.
While I was a teenager, I also realised that women were treated differently in Delhi. For instance, I wasn’t allowed the joy of taking a walk there by myself. I still don’t know if it was just the city that had made this difficult or if it was because I was part of a conservative Muslim household. All I was told was, “you can’t leave home without your brother here, this is not Mangalore,” they told me.
My female cousins seemed very timid, while the male ones had the world at their feet. We were told different things in the north, and the rules for the boys and the girls were poles apart, not only amongst the Muslim community but probably more so among the dominant Hindus and Punjabis.
Friday, April 24, 2015
For me it was a town, not that I had lived in a city. but I knew that a city would have a dustier air to it.
Whenever people asked me where I belonged I would tell them I was from UP, to some others I would say I was born in Delhi, hence I am from Delhi.
When I came to Delhi, a little more than five years ago, was when I became a bit confused of my origin. Strangers asked me where I was from, coworkers sometimes joked about me being 'Madrasi'. I knew nothing of the northern Hinduism and till now had only some glimpses of the Islam I knew. I didn't understand the obsession with butter chicken or the hullablaoo over a masala dosa it vegetarionism on particular days.
It is now navy
But still murky
Pure cotton clouds
Hide behind charcoal ones
Moisture-laden dark shapes
lead the pack
Chrome sun and red earth
Shine in opposition
A game commencing
One loses another winning
A molten, magenta core
each second changing
Blue, grey and red
And life spinning
Monsoon seems to bring cherished memories for most. It also brings the prospect of prosperity for some others. It can also bring chaos.
For Delhi the idiom, when it rains, it pours, comes true in the literal sense. And it poured last week on a Saturday, and with it all movement, human and mechanical came to a standstill. The satellite towns near Delhi had a tougher time.
People whose jobs demand working on a weekend were finding it hard to get home from work. It hadnt stopped raining in the evening; there was still pitter patter on the road.
Of the four years that I have lived in Delhi, the rains havent stopped me from going anywhere. But I had to get to my gym, near my house otherwise I would miss my martial arts class, which I loved.
When me and colleague got out of our Noida office, the road outside was waterlogged, so much so that we couldnt walk through it. An office boy helped us find an auto for the Metro station. Being Noida he charged us double, only because it was raining. We paid; we had no choice, but to be extorted by the auto-rickshaw driver.
To get home I need to change trains at an intersection. That intersection looked like the crowd at Mecca, but circling around stairways and lifts. I fought my way to another platform and got into the over-crowded second one. I was relieved when my station arrived. But, I was in for a surprise, the train did not stop there, the station was drenched, the fault of a leaking shaft.
I got off at the next station. Half the people there were confused about where to go next. A girl walking next to me asked how she could get to a shopping centre. I told her I have to go there too, and we decided to share an auto.
As we got out, there was no auto in sight. We walked towards the main road, heading out from a by-lane. Then we saw why there was no traffic going towards the station; a huge tree had decided to take this day to come crashing down. There was more chaos. There was little space for pedestrians to walk, and none for vehicles to pass through.
As my new friend and made our way through the chaos, and were trying to hail an auto, passersby on a cycle passed a lewd comment and sped past, in day light. The day was just showing that it was Delhi. Welcome to the rude, always angry city.
We asked an auto driver to take us to the shopping centre, and looking at his customers, the two abla naris, he quoted an exorbitant amount. I haggled with him for a good 5 minutes before he turned his vehicle around saying no, but in a last minute change of heart decided to drop us anyway.
On a normal day, even with some traffic, it should have taken us about 7-10 minutes on the journey. Alas, the drainage system, water-logged roads, delayed the journey to about half an hour. All I could see was people in a hurry. Patience was scarce and anger was the pulse of the traffic.
The only solace I found was in making small talk with the girl.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Even though we live in the 21st century so to say, it seems women still have to make a constant effort in order to be treated as a human being with a heart, rather than a baby-making machine who also provide ‘household’ services.
Recently, I happened to hear about a family which lives in a town in central India and is surrounded by their close-knit community. Other religious and socio-economic communities co-exist, and have a similar way of thinking about family, the woman, the girl child and marriage.
The family I am referring to consists of five; the parents, two daughters and a son. The elder sister, who is now married and has two little children, had this to say to her younger sister, who is still in school, “Don’t study so hard, you are wasting our parents’ money. I will ask mother to get you married soon after 12th grade.” (When she turns 18). It is the age when girls in India are allowed to get married, by law. For boys it is 21.
This comment or should I say a conclusion derived from circumstances she had to endure or has seen, stirred my insides.
The sisters have another sibling, a male about my age. He is still doing his MBA. Before he enrolled for the course he was trying to look for jobs but did not land one. When this continued to happen, his mother exclaimed in a sour-grapy attitude, “Boys are not getting jobs because of over-ambitious girls.”
I am itching to dissect each word and the situations they were said in, to begin an analysis. But I would now stick to just the two that seem most prominent.
The thought process that women should not have a job or their only job is at home is deep rooted and is not unfamiliar, at least in India. Apart from the men who want to suppress the voices of women, and make them dependent on them for every need, it is the older female members in a family or a unit that also manifest such ideas. The thought that educating a woman is wasting money, because all she will have to do is take care of her husband and children with her nurturing demeanor, is engraved in brains of the masses.
What if a girl wants to do all this and more, have a career, or a passion that she can pursue? What happens to the dreams of a teenager who wants to be a pilot and fly across continents? Where is the place for a woman, from an average Indian household, to become a poet? It seems as if some women are treated as if they have no intellectual capacity.
The boy’s mother thinks her son isn’t getting a job because there are girls, over-ambitious ones, who are on the prowl to steal all the jobs available to men. She doesn’t even spare a second to think that maybe her son didn’t try as hard or was not as well qualified as somebody else, or the interview didn’t go well.
Whatever the reason, she refused to see that there was anything wrong with her son and blamed it all on women, who dare to step out of the house and out of their rightful place to a forbidden domain in search of a job.
Whatever century one is part of, discrimination of the ‘weaker sex’ has always existed. Whether it is religion, politics or a socio-economic situation that is the cause of such and other variants of suppression; what is sad is that the greatest quality of a being a female, the ability to reproduce, has been turned against her to make her weaker, to shut her indoors like an animal and to deprive her of passions and dreams.