Monday, March 31, 2014

No-Nonsense Chayaisms-Thoughts & Quotes

Women rarely express their views. Our society does not encourage them to do that. Those who have the courage to voice their opinions are hounded, snubbed or laughed at. So they keep quite or stop thinking. Mostly, their attitudes and actions are dictated by men, even if benevolently so. Their voice is rarely heard in decision making processes though they are present. Even high achievers are publicity shy as they feel their spouse may not like them to hog the limelight or their male colleagues find them pushy. As a journalist, I found male achievers easier to approach for an interview, then successful women. Women are self effusive. They want to be in the background even if their work is exemplary. They shy away from speaking about themselves. When I request a female participant in a seminar, to introduce herself, she invariably starts with “I am Mrs….. My husband is …. and I have ….. children” -  even if she is a professional!

This work of mine is to initiate a new genre of writing. To encourage women to think and inspire them to put down their thoughts. This could be on any subject they feel strongly about. It could be published if they feel like sharing them with others or it could be a personal gift to oneself. This is a great way of encouraging oneself to think, analyse and record maybe to read after a few years to see if one has the same views or changed the thinking track. It can be a very adventurous experience, going through the maze of your life experiences and jotting down your views on the issues that have impacted you. Over the years, I have been collecting inspiring and interesting thoughts of other writers and I have quoted them to add value to mine. I have had fun doing this and I hope I have motivated you to do the same. It is easy, just follow the format and express your views. The world is waiting to hear what you have to say!
 About Me:
 Hi! I am Chaya Srivatsa-so what? Well, I have to introduce myself first before I share my thoughts so I started with my name. let me go on and tell you more about myself. I will stick to what is relevant to the objective of this exercise. Do bear with me- you just might like what I say and then it is up to you to go on. An ordinary woman, I developed this extraordinary ability to find the positive in every negative situation. It is all a matter of perspective. When I was in my twenties, I read a book – The power of positive thinking and that has been the greatest influence on my approach to life and its quirks. If one thinks positive, even the most dismal day will seem bright. As someone said, it is better to be positive and have one leg than be negative and have two. A living example of this was my father-in-law who lost both his legs to gangrene and was in a wheel chair for 12 years. “God wanted something from me and he took my legs. I am glad he left me the use of all my other faculties” he would say and lived to be 90 as Lord of the Manor. If that is not positive mental attitude, show me another!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Who are the oppressed women?

When I went for a morning walk the other day, a very interesting sight arrested my attention. A group of flower vendor women were sitting under a street lamp and playing cards. Some of them we smoking beedies and they speaking loudly, using swear words and cracking dirty jokes. Are these the women whose rights we are fighting for? Come to think of it, what kind of women are we branding as the oppressed in our country? There is one section that is anything but repressed! These are the socialities who have rich husbands off on business jaunts most of the time.  So, the wives indulge themselves, visiting beauty parlours, shopping in boutiques, watching video films and having kitty parties.  Their life is one of leisure and pleasure and one can only envy them!
The middle class woman is very concerned about her family – spends her time making both ends meet, balancing budgets, teaching her children, pleasing her in-laws and living respectably. She is the one who brings sanity to the society.  She forms the majority and also treads the beaten path with no aspirations to name or fame.  She is made of stuff that can endure and wants no crusader to press her cause. But the rich and famous brand them as ‘middle class’ in a derogatory manner!!
The working woman – she is found in all tiers.  There is a kind who works only because she has to, to supplement the family income.  Day in and day out, her life is lived to clockwork precision, with little excitement except for office politics, variable DA and annual increments.  She has a fairly co-operative husband who takes over reaching ‘baba’ to school or even part of the cooking.  She gets along well with her male colleagues and even flirts with some!  She is by and large happy with herself and does not seek any sympathy.
The woman executive is a newly emerging phenomenon. She is as tough as her male counter parts and can bulldoze anyone or anything that comes in her way. Dare you whisper about oppression to her! Among these, you find the single women who rent apartments and fly to Europe for a holiday and throw weekend parties to a group of friends both male and female. They are the upwardly mobile professionals – a law unto themselves!
We can’t overlook the battered and bruised woman who is exploited by her in-laws, shunned by her parents and doomed to misery.  Yes, these women do need help – from themselves.  They are not oppressed by anything other than their own weakness, their apathy and their acceptance of their fate.  It’s a pity that they continue to be what they are, despite so many examples around to emulate.
Women are endowed with marvelous qualities by nature – like tenacity, capacity to bear physical pain, basic integrity and compassion. With a combination of these, what we can’t achieve is a reflection of our own short comings. Let us rise and shine – we can do it.     


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Beware of the Casanova with a wife

“You must concede that we men are con­stant as far as wives are concerned,” com­mented my cousin. We had been discussing a friend who had terminated his ‘affair’ with one of his colleagues and gone back to the ‘fold’. Naturally, my cousin saw it from the man’s point of view — but I can only blame both the wife and the ‘other woman’ for their meek acceptance of a situation which calls for more than divine forgiveness of tresspasses.
The film industry has contributed many such passive wives who have quietly borne their husband’s flings and welcomed them back when they were tired of the grazing. Why do wives put up with this straying sheep? Are they so hung up on the title of a ‘wife’ and the legal privileges it offers, that they will tolerate anything?
Marriage calls for a certain commitment from both parties and it is but fair that they keep to the rules of the game. If either wants to explore other possibilities, it should be with the explicit understanding that the other’s commitment comes to an end. Un­fortunately, men do not play it fair and the women are to be pulled up for this.
Let’s look at it from the point of the ‘other woman’. When she knows she is up against a barrier set up by social norms, she should avoid any emotional or physical link with the man. She is, on the other hand, easily taken in by his promises to get a divorce and marry her. With this sop thrown in at psychologically strategic intervals, he gets the maximum out of the relationship and goes back to his wife after some time.
There are times when both the wife and the mistress carry his child, each believing that she is the only one! It is all very well to call the man a cad and write him off as true to type. But what we women must understand is that we can’t change them. So, the only way out is to get out of their way.
The world is large enough to have enough men and women to go around. Why not leave married men alone and seek the company of the unattached ones? This will save the single women a lot of frustration and ignominy.

A man who can divorce his wife and desert his children for another woman is quite capable of more such acts in future. A man who can ignore the tenets of a holy alliance and philander with another woman’s affections is not to be trusted. If his love is genuine and his intentions honourable, then he must prove it by positive steps and the woman must insist on it. Instead, he blackmails her emotional­ly and lulls her into a false sense of securi­ty. This can only lead to a sorry state for the woman.
Despite all our claims to progress in ac­tions and thoughts, there are still some age old traditions that cannot go up in smoke overnight. Marriage is one of them. Socie­ty only recognises the legally proclaimed spouse whatever her drawbacks, the other woman is only a pastime. The sooner she realises this and opts out of this position, the better for her!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The mark of a woman!

Sons are the worst critics of mothers. When he was 9, mine told me without a much ado, “Don’t wear jeans mum. It doesn’t suit women. You should wear skirts, sarees, churidars. Leave the pants to men. Do we wear the clothes you wear? Why should you encroach even on our dress?”
I heard some of his friends grumbling because their mothers smoke and drink. “All these aren’t for women. They should drink lime juice and never touch a cigarette”. I argued with them about equality and all that meaningless jazz but secretly agreed with their views!
My grandmother kept  advising us ‘girls’ in the family to be very conscious of what we wear and what we say. According to her, the reigning deity of the household ‘grihalakshmi’ is constantly keeping watch and saying ‘Asthu (amen) all the time. The Goddess will be angered if the lady of the house prefers to masquerade as a man and wears clothes that don’t fit her image, smile or drink. On one side, I have the new generation giving me guidelines and on the other, the old school dictting norms. My own peer group is all for the ‘new’ look an do-what-you- want-philosophy.
Having analysed all the aspects l have come to my own conclusions.

  • Regarding dress, I think we should wear what suits us, according to the occasion.. 
  • Coming to smoking. Whether it’s a man or a woman, it’s a habit one is better off without. It has neither any plus point health wise, nor does it enhance your looks or add to your personality. So why go in for it? If you don’t like the statement that it is ‘unladylike’ to have a cigarette in your hand, at least learn from les­son taught by nicotine-stained teeth and puffy eyes, doctors have been screaming hoarse about the evil effects of smoking in pregnancy on the child. Let’s draw a line and leave smoking to the men, if they have to. At least this way, we can be a positive influence and make them stop smoking!
  • As for drinking, nowhere is it stipulated that only men should enjoy its intoxication. Yet, frequent intake of alcohol tells on woman’s face (as much on a man’s), so why seek pleasure in some­thing that ultimately may ruin?

I know I’ll be branded a female chauvinist, but I tend to think like my son’s generation which wants mothers to be ‘feminine’ — which rules out alcohol, tobacco and dresses that don’t suit me, even if they are in vogue. Well it’s not a bad deal after all, being a woman.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why hubby walked the dog..

I have sometimes wondered who gets a better thrill out of the early morning walk, my husband Suresh or our dog Fido. Suresh is by and large a morning-sleep-loving soul. He gets up early only if he has to catch a train or there is an earthquake.
When Fido joined our family he had to be taken for his morning walk. Chips of the old block, our sons Tino and Chiko, refus­ed to get up until just before their school bus honks at the gate. I am quite occupied in the kitchen, cutting up onions for the breakfast and packing the boys’ lunch for school. So it fell to Suresh’s lot to walk Fido.
The first day, Suresh grumbled, tumbl­ed out of bed, insisted on a cup of tea, pull­ed on an old worn out sweater and set out grudingly. The next morning there was a radical change. He whistled a lilting tune while he shaved and pulled on a rather bright T-shirt (a garment he normally wears on picnics). I had to remind him to drink his tea as he was in such a hurry to go out.
This overnight change in his attitude towards the morning walk gladdened my heart. While Fido exercised his four legs, I thought, Suresh would inhale the pure, unpolluted air of the early morning. Each morning Suresh’s enthusiasm for the morning  routine increased. He pulled out his brightest shirts, combed his hair vigorously and polished his canvas shoes with a song on his lips. There was a fresh glow on his face which I naively put down to the crisp air.
Such a transformation would suit my female complexion better, 1 felt, and decid­ed to hurry up my breakfast chores and ac­company Suresh. He looked a little taken back when I announced my intention.
“You., you .. you .. want to come for a walk? Wh ... Wh ... Why? he stuttered. I thought he was overcome with joy to have my company but my illusions were shat­tered. “No ... No ... you stay at home and make the scrambled eggs. You will find the walk too tiring,” he advised.

One Sunday morning, however, I decid­ed that breakfast could be delayed for once and donned my pants. Despite Suresh’s protestations, I set out with him. As we neared the golf course, I heard a cheery ‘Hi’! and looked around. It was a very attractive teenager I hadn’t seen before and wondered whom she was greeting as there was no one else on the road save Suresh, Fido and me. ‘Hi’ she said again and I realised she was saying it to Suresh whose face seemed to be peculiarly con­torted.
The girl shrugged her cute shoulders and pushed off. A few steps later another cheery greeting shattered the morning air this time, ‘Hello’. It was a leggy youngster in a tight T-shirt, peddling away her bright yellow bicycle.
A sneaking suspicion was beginning to put out its tentacles in my mind. Next: “Oh! you aren’t alone today” said a coo­ing voice emanating from the vocal chords of a voluptuous dame in hot pants and skivy. A couple of yards of some silent walking brought us face to face with a trim looking girl who said ‘Hello! You are five minutes behind time today' and walked off.
All this time, Suresh’s face alternated bet­ween looking like a tomato and a beetroot. He mumbled something in reply to all these querries and greetings and just walked on. Fido was however more demonstrative and licked the calves of the fair maidens who patted his head.

These days, I get up early, make the breakfast and take Fido for his walk. I in­sist on Suresh taking it easy in his bed and enjoying a refreshing early morning sleep. I also take another route which is less in­fested with cheery souls. Moreover, I meet a very interesting man who walks his dog. We talk of dogs and the advantages of a good morning walk for the creatures!