Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Home’s the best place to work

For over four decades, I have been a homemaker and a career woman and I have come to the conclusion that the more satisfying of the two roles I play is the former. The emerging upwardly mobile professional may scream murder when she hears this but the only organisation, which gives maximum job opportunity to excel, and the right authority to innovate, is the home. Here, the woman has neither to report to anyone nor is answerable for her decisions. She is the ‘sole’ ruler and everyone carries out her orders. She is definitely indispensable in this organisation and her absence not only disturbs the even tenor of working, but also casts a depressing gloom over the atmosphere.How many women run their home on sound management principles? How many bring to it the professional touch, which can transform a mere drudgery into a skilled performance? Why don’t women think of a ‘home’ as an economically viable ‘industry’ which when run well, can yield profits not necessarily in terms of money but in terms of those intangible yet precious fruits like -self satisfaction and peace.

A home is an excellent training ground for management. A homemaker is the ideal MD who has an overall charge of running the place efficiently. She has a definite budget to operate and a staff to motivate. Her charter of duties entails purchase, inventory, material management, stock taking and planning. She has to individually manage each of these areas and take decisions on her own though she might consult her spouse and children. Besides managing day-to-day functioning of the household, the homemaker has to also look into other factors like children’s schooling, books, tuition, clothes and other needs; keep up the family PR activities by calling on relatives or entertaining them, preserve the family heritage by following customs and traditions; look to the upkeep and maintenance of the household properties.
Unlike her job in the office, here she cannot afford to take any kind of leave. Perhaps, sick leave is the only one she can safely avail of but she cannot get away from remote control managing anyway!
I cannot understand why we women want to trade this fabulous employment opportunity we have, for some superfluous activity outside the home. If only we were to take our duties as homemaker seriously, we can save ourselves a lot of heartache and rat race tensions, which a career poses. So many of our talents go to waste when we set out to work because in an impersonal organisation we become automatons – doing what we are dictated to do. On the other hand from the citadel of our own homes where we are the ultimate in authority, we can fruitfully convert our leisure time to developing cottage industry and pursuing lucrative hobbies. We leave behind a cozy comfortable home to spend eight hours in a tension ridden, competitive atmosphere in the name of achieving success in life. We are running after an illusion, leaving behind reality because in life, that work has meaning, which gives you what you want, the way you want. Happy is the woman who realises the potential of being a homemaker and the queen of her home      

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The sucker sex

I had a very thought-provoking discussion with my 18-year-old nephew the other day. He was telling me the reason why his eighth girlfriend broke away. He looked and sounded relieved about the whole thing and decided to take a break for six months before acquiring another girlfriend.
What amazed me was his nonchalant attitude and his confidence in being able to make friends with a girl on his terms. “don’t the girls shun you, with your reputation for being a Cas?” I asked him, using his lingo.
“You think girls are that smart?”  He asked disdainfully. “you women might have progressed in all fields but when it comes to emotions you are suckers!.”
So young and so wise! “Now see aunty, when I like a girl a little more than the others, I’d like to seek her company and all’s fine. But when she starts slobbering things like ‘why did you ring up Suman’? or when did you start loving me? I get pissed off. Dash it, why cant girls accept a fun relationship instead of bringing in all this sentimental baloney and I – possess-you-kind-of attitude?” I secretly agreed with him but surely, couldn’t let down the side! “Girls are more constant than you are,” I said.
“For God’s sake, who wants constancy now?” he exploded, “honestly aunty, all this about being faithful etc., is for wives and husbands. I think girls are rum. If they start reading less of Mills &Boon they will have more sense in their heads.”
“But”, I intervened, “if they had more sense, they wouldn’t be fooled by you.” By this time the discussion had moved from the personal to the academic.
“Emotional suckers” – that’s what we women are and that is what has kept us cloistered all these years. We get bogged down by our own sentiments, which draw out parameters for our behaviour. We feel we must give emotionally every ounce of us, when we get into a relationship. We expect the same kind of surrender from the man, which he resists. This results in break-ups and bitterness.
Our inhibitions are dictated by our own perceptions of our role as women. We see ourselves in the light of the women we read about – Sita, Savitri, Draupadi  and Damayanthi who tolerated a lot of misery for the sake of their husbands. But we fail to see in their character the resilience, the willpower and the staying power, which is what womanhood, is about.
Like my nephew said, we get taken in by sweet nothings and moonlight promises. We don’t have the pragmatism to put them down to atmosphere and see things in their right perspective.
As long as we have this weakness, men will exploit us. I think we still have a long way to go – we have to strengthen our emotional fibre and not break down when the boyfriend seeks fresher pastures.
After all, relationships are like ships that pass by in the night. The only lasting ties are those woven by marriage and family. Meanwhile, it is better to keep in tact that one thing which is invaluable- virginity.Because we are worth it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Equal rights for men!

After the International Year of women there will follow, I hope, the International Year of Man. I call for mobilisation of world opinion against oppression of men and restoration of equal rights to them. We must work for their liberation and emancipation and see that justice is done.
That this is a man’s world is a myth. Except for the twenty one gun salute and jubilation after his birth, life is pretty grim for him. While his naughty little sister gets away from punishment with a dimpled smile and winsome ways, he has to bear the walloping he gets with fortitude. Right from his ‘baba suit’ stage, he is supposed to be a man. If he grazes his knee or falls from a tree, he has to keep a stiff upper lip while the doctor tries his sartorial skill on the wound. One tear in his eye and he’s branded a “cry booby”. Papa is strict with him, for to spare the rod would spoil him. Mama reads Benjamin Spock and is afraid to “mollycoddle” him, lest he become a “Sissy”. All this time – who, pray – is wallowing in the luxury of “coochy coos” and “cheety pies” from papa and Mama? This imp of a sister, of course!
In school, the girls giggle in class and whisper to each other. The worst that can happen to them is an order to write an imposition a hundred times. This only improves their handwriting while they continue to giggle and whisper. But the poor boys! The master is itching to wield the rod. One slip on the little fellow’s part, and out he’s asked to stretch his palm.
In college, the girls get into formidable groups; and any male passing by will have to possess either a pachyderm or a blocked ear, not to blush at the raillery! The Policeman nearby smiles benignly at the girls and looks elsewhere for a prey. The boys in their enthusiasm sing snatches of romantic ditties and whistle appreciatively when a girl goes by in tight skivvies and trousers; a policeman pounces on them from nowhere and hauls them off to the nearest cell. When “eve teasing” can be punishable, why should the “Adam teaser” go scot-free?
In grandma’s days, the daughter of the house got her diamond earrings a couple of tholas of gold, a wardrobe of clothes, some household effects and pushed off to her husband’s house to scrounge on his earnings. The son collected the cash and property and sent his sister an occasional gift. Today, thanks to various changes in law, the daughter gets all that her predecessors got, plus a first class education, a reception at a five star hotel, and a chunk of the property. What is left is given to the son. To make matters worse, all Hindu festivals are sister-oriented: while she applies some paste on brother dear’s forehead, he has to dive into his treasury!
As a husband, the man has to support his wife even if she’s a high-powered executive with a four-figure salary. She can live off her husband’s earnings and squander her own on jewels and chiffons. Why can’t the husband live off the wife’s and use his own to buy designer suits and jeweled tiepins? What a social solecism that will be! He is branded a parasite, and society cries shame on him.
I ask you; in what way is it a man’s world? To boost a self-created image of chauvinism, men have to be strong and bear the atrocities committed on them. Men of the world – unite and fly high your flags of freedom, and ask for equal rights- same as your sister’s! Do not spoil your case by raping women , beating the wife and burning her for dowry! Real men don’t do that.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Let them fight their own battle

In a remote village in Harayana, a 60-year-old Parmeshwari Devi set a new trend in the women’s emancipation movement. She mobilised women in her village and waged war against the opening of liquor shops and granting of licenses to them. Naturally, the women are the worst affected when their men get drunk and who can better plead for them than themselves? Any cause gets better attention when those fighting are the victims themselves.
Take dowry deaths. What we need is a forum of young women in rural and semi-rural areas, who will refuse to marry if dowry is demanded. There can be a complementary group of parents of marriageable girls. Together, these two groups can pose quite a threat to young men who will find themselves doomed to eternal bachelorhood.
Unless the parents of the girls co-operate, this movement can only be a cry in the wilderness. In the ultimate analysis, it’s the parents who are to be blamed, for throwing their daughters into an abyss of misery. All because they are afraid of wagging tongues in the neighborhood. How will it help if women in cities march to the Council Hall or press for amendments in the legal structure?
Another forum that should come up is that of daughters-in-law. It’s indeed pathetic to see how some of them are browbeaten into a life of serfdom even in cities! I know of one such, an educated girl married into a fairly well off but conservative family in Bombay. As it’s a joint family, she is not allowed to take up a job now. To think her husband is also highly educated and has been abroad on assignments! This girl is just 25 but has become a workhorse. How can anyone fight for her rights while she’s too meek to stand up for herself?
 What we need are women’s groups made up of those who are suffering various kinds of discrimination and oppression. Only then will there be a solution. There’s no point in wearing your best cotton saree and shouting slogans near the Council Hall, against issues, which do not directly affect you. At best, such women can motivate and mobilise the victims and show them how to fight for themselves. We need more and more Parmeshwari Devis in the remote corners of our country. Why not launch a search for them?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

We’re such nuts with bolts

It was an interesting game that revealed our ignorance! Our hostess had hit upon this novel idea to break the ice in the party as she felt that men and women had the tendency to ‘hole up’ together in corners.
Two trays were placed on the centre table. One contained different kinds of lentils while the other displayed nuts, bolts and screws. All the ladies had to identify where the nuts etc., fitted while the men had to identify dishes that could be made with the lentils.
It was a most shameful moment for the ladies when the men were declared winners. It struck me that men, though they don’t hobnob in the kitchen as much as we do, seemed to have a higher degree of awareness than us women who don’t really bother to look into the nitty gritty of the gadgets we use daily.
I must confess to absolute ignorance when it comes to changing the fuse or repairing a leaky tap. I know a number of women who are equally bad. How much we depend on our men folk when it comes to chores like this! Come to think of it, have you ever seen a female plumber or an electrician?
Our education system should equip us with some knowledge about such handy jobs. Our schools still continue to have the usual cookery and sewing classes for both boys and girls, but nowhere are we women taught to change a bulb or replace a worn out washer.
Why don’t we have vocational training courses where girls are taught plumbing and wiring! Once trained, these women can form little groups to service housing societies so that when their men folk are away at work, the housewives can safely admit the female plumber or electrician. Despite our going into many fields, some areas are still male dominated – not because men don’t allow the women but we women don’t venture into them.
We have seen many women as telephone operators but few in the maintenance staff. Here again, from the safety point of view, a trained woman is a safer proposition when admitting into homes. What we need is a total revamping of our employment parameters. This is possible of course only with the cooperation of men and women. On construction sites, women should be banned from carrying cement or any such physically tiring work. Instead, they should be trained to do masonry, floor laying, polishing and brick laying – all these require a certain dedication to detail and patience, both of which are woman’s strength
Both sexes are gifted with certain plus points and these have to tapped rather than fighting for jobs which may not suit them. Our country is large enough – to provide employment for all – it’s because we insist on plugging squares into round holes that we lose out.
There is ample bread on the plate for both men and women. Let us share according to our capacity and not grab to prove our superiority.