Cheers to Middle Class Fatherhood. Happy Father’s Day!

dadsSometimes stereotypes work like wonders!
Alright so normally we don’t write about men… except in an unflattering kind of way…hey you know there are good reasons…(smile please) but TODAY is not the reason…today we are celebrating fatherhood, just like the day! It’s not like you need a day to celebrate the special bond between daughters and fathers. After all, If we were to reason like Freud then apparently, we all wanted to marry our dads…at some point when we ran around in our diapers or nappies, we probably did.
After all, he was the fascinating guy who came home in the evening, seemed to bring in good cheer and grocery and smiles to the faces of all including the biggest one on your mom’s right? Phew…worry not, sometimes, he was also the guy who brought in jitters to the body of people who worked in your home, and a grimace to your mom’s face because she was running behind in her chores, and snack and tea was not yet ready, and sahib was on his way…so you would see your mom running around in a tizzy for that garam chai ka pyala! And what about the times, he was coming and they were leaving right away for an evening to the Boss’s house, and mummy was all ready and waiting and he cancelled because a friend needed him to go along to the doctors. Mummies were always annoyed with daddies priorities…but he set the tone of what became your values and principles…and you fell a little bit more in love which would last even without the cheap toys that he remembered to bring home with the grocery. And when your mom saw the toys and the candy and the what not, it was another reason for her delivery of a long drawn lecture on “ spoil karo” “waste karo” and “I don’t care, do whatever” …and then somewhere deep inside her mommy-biology breathes a sigh of relief because she picked the right guy who loves their child as much as she does…and she makes an even more fabulous dinner than usual.
And then when you turned 6 or 7 or that indiscriminate age, when school is becoming important and home work is boggling those tiny brain cells of ours. He was the guy sitting across with his hot tea, and telling you about the importance of education and learning, interspersed with “ beti, you are my son”. “ I am proud of you”, and that occasional, “ bhai you are not trying hard, you put in so much time riding that bike, readings comics, and playing on the street” …and then finally would come the memory-jog “when I was your age, you know, my school did not….” And apparently, that one worst school in the world was your dad’s -with teachers who beat the crap out of the boys and that one headmaster, who had made roting an art form, … and no tables or chairs or “ OMG…and then little missy smart that you were, from the first guilt on listening to this tirade you transition to that expression of patience and automatically tuned it out while vigorously shaking your head. And he continued to teach you algebra and geometry and then some physics.
There were also the evenings with you sick with the many illnesses of childhood and in the middle of feverish chills and your mother’s constant presence is the idea that the man standing hovering is the one running to call the doctor, getting the medicine, and carrying you in his arms to the doctor…and you know he can run all the way if he needs to…the comfort of having a man around that we women crave seems to be building right there….
When you are the teenager, the first person to say, “ so beta who is Raju, Shekhar, etc etc,” is your dad… while your mom is monitoring what you wear, “skirt is short, top is tight, where is your dupatta” conversations become the norm when you step out f the house. When slighted or feeling misunderstood, she calls your father…he says “arre let her be bhai”…and then later he is standing right at the door, saying… “beta, I have raised you like a son…ahem…but the world is not ready for girls like you so…be careful” …or he will say, just call if you need to be picked up”…and then “where are you going…who all are going”…the casual unending-conversation is being filed away in that head …and…when you are back maybe a little late as you turn 16, you see mom sitting on the dining table waiting…and when you are glad, that papa is sleeping, and as you tip toe, you hear his voice talking softly to mom “did she eat any food? You should not worry, now go to sleep”….and you smile even though you are annoyed at being treated like the kid, you are.
And after numerous trips to give exams riding pillion on papa’s scooter or in his car, or sitting with him the rickshaw, where he goes over your paper and calculates how many points you will get. He is looking at the options for what if you do not make it. And when you first make it through the professional school or the first job as you turn 20, he is the one making phone calls to relatives you did not know you had, your accomplishment easily translating to his lineage. While mom is busy praying to all the gods possible for good wishes for you, he is creating a network in the new city you have to move to, opening your bank account, transferring money, and increasing a little of your allowance for the shopping you need as you step towards the adult life.
The calls from them every evening never stop, in the one to five years you are away, when you forget to return a call in a week, they plan a surprise trip to see you in the middle of a week, but only stay for a day…they were not visiting you see, they just came to make sure, you are fine. And relieved they go back in the second class compartment with 36 hrs ahead of them in the same week. While you go back to your busily fun life and friends and share all the hard work of your mom poured in to those laddoos, and namkeens and pooris…very indiscriminately.
And then you are ready for marriage they are thinking, while you are thinking if you want to dump your boyfriend or take him to your parents. And then, the decision is made you feel. You are not sure what the response will be, when you get the phone call to come a little early for December vacations, and somehow, whether it is the boyfriend or the boy from the matrimonial that you marry. When you leave the house, on that day you are overwhelmed at what the marriage will mean for you and what leaving the home and comfort of home will mean…because this time it feels real. And when you see them being extra nice and polite to your husband and his huge family, it annoys you…especially that father who orders everyone around, and you tell him” papa, stop it, be yourself” and he looks at you and he smiles and says” beta, you take care ok…and I don’t care about all this norm-vorm…you should just come back if you don’t like …ok…but beta do try to like and adjust a little”…
And then over the years, even as your partner works hard at being the support you want and being the man in the house, a part of you is always with the man you left behind, the real man of the house, your first support and your continued support and inspiration.

Happy Father’s day! P.S. Also to mom’s who do this as a dual role…alone!

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comment on Jia Khan suicide: When the love falls apart….keep your life together!

So once again, a sad outcome for a young working girl…Jia Khan who was apparently an ambitious and smart girl; with youth on her side…working in an unpredictable industry that allows one to thrive but without believing it will last for a long time. As the highs so the lows….Making her debut opposite an established film maker like Ram Gopal Verma, and the iconic Amitabh was not enough to secure a career fillip for the foreseeable future. Even working in other A grade films did not likely assure that she would make it to be a success story.
It is interesting, how our expectation from our youth to have responsibilities has reduced and dreams have multiplied. This is a global phenomenon, a counselor Camillie says “the age for everything has moved but not for independence and work.” The modern society does not allow the space for working and reworking to make the best fit solution for our future and goals. So overwhelmed with emotions and ambitions, our youth are transitioning into unsure adults with reduced capacity for coping with stress and situations.
The emerging adulthood implies that it is a form of kaccha ghara, meaning it has yet to be molded, yet to be completely formed, go over kiln, and then…after experiencing a little hot a little cold and a little wet…all uncomfortable places to be in, it will finally emerge as a pot of some shape or size, with a capacity to hold… Youth holds within it the potential for amazing feats and also the vulnerability to collapse much like the not yet formed clay, only because it has a shape or looks beautiful, does not mean it is ready.
There is ample evidence to show that youth are susceptible to and at risk for suicide with the 15 to 29 being the age range for highest risk in India, for maximum risk and conflict in relationships being the most likely cause; an hanging, poisoning, and drowning the most common means. Even then the access to mental health counseling and risk assessment remains low in urban India that has considerable stressors and increased loneliness and support systems
Even though people who attempt suicide might not want to die and those who wish to die might not attempt suicide, at least in our parts of the world, there are still not many levels of accepting this way of losing life; thank fully. However increased online access to crazy groups that support and solicit suicides is an additional risk to vulnerable young people. There are scales like the hopelessness scale and depression inventories that can predict with some accuracy if someone is likely to attempt suicide…..
Ultimately it boils down to whether there is in every young person’s life that one person; they can reach out to, talk, and trust. And whether even when they are in love or intensely attached to other people, that one person is as much part of their lives… we cannot ignore the needs and changing situations and desires of our young people, we cannot stop the change.. maybe, BUT we can definitely be a part of their experience of this change in the same old way….by making ourselves a part of their lives…by maintaining constant communication….by keeping the traditions of being a family, being friends, being neighbors….just the way we used to…it does help to have people to talk to…even when it is the daily daal bhaat conversation… ultimately, that is life and you can live it well only with many others….who make up for the loss of one or two relationships and can reinforce that that is not your whole life.

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The India of my dreams!

Ceased to exist somewhere in the last century and like all fools sleeping late …the hope of waking to paradise did not happen but I helped my nation catch-all the possible worms in the world.
Like the middle class often does, I gave myself accolades for working hard, and resting in my well-earned leisure, in giving the defunct system some choicest abuses, when long lines outside foreign country consulates allowed, I escaped to another kind of indenture.
Meanwhile my streets teemed with the hungry, women and child galore with the begging bowls, some from across the border in worse conditions, if that was possible, some grown from within the boundaries that were forever being negotiated and given up a little at a time as only a weak spine and weakening spirit can…I offered them restitution! Come be a servant in my household, for a penny a day, I shall give you a cup of tea, cold water and dirty dishes, clothes, and floors!
My mountains got blown apart, as the powerful wanted to be richer killing, forests and our heritage in quest for wealth buried deep in the form of stones, or dug the earth around my feet, looking for the coal, and the diamonds that would allow them planes, and me a second AC birth. Meanwhile, a majority of my people struggled to pave roads rural, a lost cause as the local contractor determined the level of gravel and bricks and tar and cement in proportions that would allow his children to study in the best schools London and New York had to offer or to buy a doctor degree for his precious ones from Manipur. Meanwhile, the men trekked out of the villages, and the women were left behind, and then the women trekked out leaving only children and the old and infirm so that the pimp and the tout could easily drive up in a jazzy car that could pile up the future of my country into the cars for a quick packing deal around the globe as we became the providers and keepers and holders of the precious cargo called people, capturing the market in human trafficking beating all the least developing countries to the shame game!
While, I was thrilled that the developed world was rising to support its weak and making a symbolic and a historical gesture to honor those it had trodden upon, I ignored that in my country, the symbols became nightmares, as the fighter of Independence transformed to traders of its very existence. From looting food grains to looting air waves, we upped the ante, we were big timers now, our scandals bigger, our worth smaller, our national currency valued, our public morals MIA, we learned that Delhi was a rape capital that used green fuel, that police was for protecting politicians, we had long visa queues and no teachers in our primary school, debate on dowry had not ended but on divorce was final, while the President was aghast at the violence, his son was venting on painted women, we were offended, we stepped out finally on the roads, we were tired, and unsure, we came back, turned over on the other side and shut our eyes, hoping not to be disturbed.
On other nights, I heard the generation Z busily dancing to be best dancer, singing to best singer, and doing drama for the best draamebaaz, we forgot to count so much so that our middle school was found to have no grasp of Math, English, or Science; our children finally realized that call center might not need much except being able to read. Choosing higher education we did, but we forgot to teach our government, how to create jobs for all the masters and ph.d students.

Meanwhile our little cousins in new-found autonomy started dating and live-in relationships, but the parents forgot to tell them about the long road to marriage and the lonely hearts clubs of their aspirations.  Conveniently, we forgot to talk about teenage pregnancy and porn and alcohol and drugs…because as far as we were concerned, in our middle age also, “party abhi baki hai”‘ …

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The quiet servitude!

why do people in the political setup remain quiet in the face of public sentiment, wrath, discomfort, sometimes, actual and perceived threat issues..? Because the power and accountability are not linked in the indian system of governance, be it primeminister manmohan singh, or UP chief minister Akhilesh Singh.

They remain quiet in the face of rape, in the face of communalism, in the face ofpoverty, in the face…in your face….their quiet a statement on who they feel accountable to….

The reasons are all interlinked:

In their minds, their power and responsibilities are not a function of people or democracy but of family fuedalism and some individual’s grace to them. they become symbols and react and respond just as symbols would ….no real feeling or meaning !


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Meaning of Rape Culture India- Delhi “pretty ladies with makeup” Profiling “Sexist” “Rapist” “Misogynist” “Woman haters” “Chauvnist”

So I was talking to a very senior police officer the other day, a well balanced, well read man married to another woman police office….(I don’t know if these make him an exception). However, he basically profiled the “rape culture” of Delhi and surrounding areas in very succinct words -” drugs and alcohol keep most of the male population in Delhi – 15 years and up from across classes in a stupor of depraved cravings;  the public mobility of women and the absence of any deterrence perceived or real support keeps women within easy access of these drugged men; and the culture of party (MIND YOU not the discotheque or college party of equals) of the big farm house led by big politicians and “rich” classes, and underworld that thrives on the trade of drugs and increasingly people – women and children-….more than gold and arms; and finally the continuing understanding of most men that women are sheila ki jawani waiting for them!

Much to the chagrin of our dearly evolved President, his retrograde son is able to share his sexist, misogynist, woman hating, chauvinism on camera. Voicing his worry that “painted and dented pretty women” are not in college and not likely to be protestors…in fact he is overwhelmed because for him a woman is the one who sleeps with him, feeds him, and allows him to misuse her in numerous ways with scant complaints. the women on the street are not ones he knows: “you know why sir jee? “who are these ladiez sir jee? protesting, nara wara ..and all? ”

Because he did not help to make these women, they constructed themselves,  from the hard work and sweat of their middle class upbringing, from the dredges of their lower class resources, and some help from far away ………resources that were creating education and work opportunities even within corporate funding and its limitations….these men were caught in the larger loot that fell their way,  Back here though, these men who were “powerfully” signing away treaties and agreements…were counting only  how much money would fall in their lap…and yes, yes women get to work hard and bring money...”heheheh why not sir jee? ladki logs working, sir jee, gud na…we can ask matrimonial column to say, “want gori girl, working preferred”

so the rape culture -( in and out of marriage )continued especially in the political and rich babusahab class evident from the burning daughter in laws and killing daughters (though they are all claiming on national television their daughters) continued in their own homes, along with abducting women, killing boyfriends of their daughters,  burning ex-mistress’s in tandoors and organizing parties with special requests for college girls as appetizers…..this is their culture…’painted’ and ‘unpainted’ women were fair game! they will not be easily put off ! and till date they do not have any reason to not share the workings of their brains: since the brains are obviously not being applied to governance, the ‘brains’can be applied to sex and sexuality and claiming a right to it by all these men! to have women, to own women, to abuse and commit violence against women!

This is not patriarchy – this is hatred for women!

So the evolved Bengali political family, which the President of India belongs to also raises a son, who hates women, ” hain what babu moshai” “বমেন ব্লাডি বিউটি মেকিং কান্ট্রি মেস্স্য় ” and a woman who says” kya kehta hai – ব্রথের , ই আম অলস ওম্যান “ …unfortunately women from higher class feel empowered by the same family that suffocates the life out of women from all other families…and women from middle to lower class are left to listen to drivel that is basically “a” women at best and venomously “anti- woman” at worst.

so when we see the news on tv these last few days, we, men and women, who put in our blood and sweat trying to treat our children equal, give our girls a sense of identity and self, preparing themboth to struggle and survive will see them young  and helpless and yet be proud of our brave children  -women and girls, who are on the streets fighting, (unlike us) and the boys standing with friends and colleagues and classmates as equals and as supports ….but this is the urban minority…

A prominent chunk of India is seeing through the haze of alcohol, and drugs, and power, “pretty women” who they can get to their farm party, request as a special favor, and then say on public forums says” why u are naked? i am asking for your good”  because youknow all the women who get raped arewearing skirts and make up apparently….and as a way of  expressing real support ” sir jee , marry the girls na, then it is ok” …urban and rural rich ones…of India…

the poor rural are probably tied up somewhere along with their children serving these people, or being trafficked to China and Mexico even as we speak and think…and sort of believe we are in a free nation!

the law of violence against women needs an incorporation of communication and speech that makes any action or word “person who (expresses in any form) hate, dislike, mistrust, or mistreatment of  women” will be fined a months salary if he has a job, if not do community service by masquerading as a woman in short clothes in a “party” of someone rich and powerful!  and come and share his experiences opposite someone like the Presidents’ son and Chauthala, and maybe Nirupam something? …

and if you need input on how to operationalize it …there are lots of details  from 16th century

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Setting an Agenda for Delhi Damini protestors at India Gate: What should we ask for ?

So our children….these young impressionable girls and boys are being thrashed and thrown on the ground…cold water and some cold sticks…not fun! but the spirit and commitment that is new to Indian psyche post 1947, can be felt strongly in this group.  every time one sees, a young girl that could be from our neighborhood,  small and young and trying to say she has rights and she needs to be heard…your old heart also finds sympathy…but nothing like sympathy in the old old hearts and minds of the people in our governance. vo to kursi pakde baithae hain….kahan itni thand main bahar jaayenge sirjee…policiwalon ko behjiye..sirjee. dande lagaiye sirjee aur apni dal roti khaiyae sir jee…

so that is why probably the policeman thought ki, let’s show them …”hain blaming us” these saala ladka and ladki log…sounds like goras in brown skin….our very own home grown brown marshmellows! khair ji…we can not eat the dandas for you. but..we can tell you how to frame those demands jo abhi sunai nahi padi hain…you need an be spoken and associated with you, you brave ones! so that..just in case…sarkaar understands it is just one component of the Indian state, the other is population!  (that is more on the street than in  the daftar of the missing in action Shinde sir jee and the lt. saab! ) you can say, yeh rahe hamare das point – “kariye ya karvaiyae! nahi to bhaad mein jaaiye”

so the fight is for rights of women, and also men, and also families: kya hae yeh right? it is the right to dignity! and it can only exist if its violation is a cognizable offence. hain but hain na…so many sections of the law? well yes, so we need modifications not in the law but the Point no 1 ! procedure of the law. prevention and protection and execution!

For instance, fast track courts are not an option but a necessity!

police petrol cars with camera!

police stations with camera!

all hospitals need a women and violence ward that state must pay for!

all place that allow women and men to hang out must pay a tax that helps women in crisis b/c women are funding these places with their hard-earned money…!

community inclusive policing in cases of violence,

training and testing of police personnel for women sympathetic attitudes,

creating an understanding of modern women’s identity across society, government, and its agencies.

there are some incidence specific demands that need to make Delhi Damini a landmark not an also-incident. so who is responsible for making sure that petrol cars are on that Delhi route?   is it that chap, who looks oddly complacent and stand offish? the police chief? well he failed…he needs to be the subject not the instigator of an inquiry! he needs to be suspended for it.

Point Number 2 ! A woman needs to replace him and start her tenure with an apology, unconditional to all the people of delhi for maintaining insecurity and fear….she then needs to conduct raids on all vehicles being driven by a group of men, and conduct raids and stings at night and day…fill the prison with those who harass and tease, prey, and prowl the streets of Delhi…for the next 6 months…live on camera…aur India TV can inspire you…

Point No 3. The Delhi government needs to fund a study of the men who are caught and send them into counseling program, a women’s hospital that is for women who report any incidence,  and support the formation of women society called Delhi Damini that is trained to help.

Point no 4: Ask for an open debate in the Parliament and make all the men who are accused of rape from any political party sit in side and the rest on the other. and all the women on one side and let it be telecast live so India can see the face of its gender and its priorities

one of the items for discussion. no matter which jurisdiction, the filing of a complaint has to be done and it is the responsibility of the police station to transfer it to the right one….







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Raped in a bus: The lesson to Fight from Damini – Jyoti Singh! “let your name be furious not fraility”!

So! yet again, a woman has been raped, ….in a bus, ….in Delhi, ….in a woman ruled state,…by four or five men, …and there is a protest march,…and thankfully ‘concerned humanity’ is sitting in protest post fact.   The noteworthy thing about this crime is that the young woman’s boyfriend/ friend / escort is helping identify and is instrumental in nabbing them. the other piece is that, rapists appear to belong to lower classes and  will not be able to pull strings to get away that easily.

The protest and the outrage being documented on media, live and print is actually a marked improvement to the apathy that was city briefs coverage…back in the last decade.   At least rape made it to main news and main issue. otherwise a few years ago, Sheila Dixit had blamed the victim who was raped and murdered at 3 a.m….by suggesting the girl had no business being out at 3….so we should be empowered but stay home…also we should be empowered but dress to appease…and these lousy values seem to perpetuate women and men and the society in general.and bhai unka driver always agrees…

It does not take a lot to create A Taliban,   just a few scared women and a few silly ones. and some ineffectual men, who come together to create an environment where the woman is an object of abuse, control, and crime. There is no psychopath and sociopath syndrome, it is a not a sexual disorder or a simple family value outcome, it is the knowledge that you can get away with raping and abuse. A few days ago, a man strangled a 16-year-old, in full public view, because she had filed a complaint about his abuse. A six-year-old was raped by her 20-year-old neighbor, a girl in Bombay, in her apartment was raped and killed in the middle of the night, by the guard of her building…..

the reasons are simple: while girls are aware of being cautious on the street, at home, at a friend’s place, because they can be raped …the rapists are not cautious, because they know that the state, the government, the law, the police, the community will work together to ensure that the long tedious process of  identifying the criminal,  arresting, prosecuting, and convicting will buy them 5 to 10 years, during which they can threaten and intimidate the victims, or bribe and bamboozle the process and the machinery….and if god forbid they do make it to being convicted, some Zealous and highly evolved Justice Katzu clone will initiate a compromise. 

meanwhile, the girl knows, the process of being identified as a victim will be immediate, the repercussions on her position in society will last for ever, and she will never have her life back because she will be known as the raped woman….with questions of where was she, who was she with? what was she wearing? and women will be the ones asking them at home, even as they tighten the curfews and monitoring of their children…aur kyon na karen? they are afraid…they can’t do much beyond protect and prevent….for all the progress made, they know that this progress is only in women’s mindset, in women’s ambition, and women’s guts….men and structures are retro and regressive and for them, the woman is her body- first and last!

so what is the solution….hmmm solution to nahi hai…but there are only two options: one be seen in public space and be seen as a deterrent and two don’t be ‘seen’. the don’t be seen solution is the taliban one, stay home and wear things that will make you not be seen as a person…..the other is, when someone sees you, wearing that short dress, or late at night, let them also “see” that you will kill with as much ease as he will attack you. this is an imagery of countering the porn and tv and films… that makes the world of dumb men think they are salman to your katrina ki jawani….

In the developed world, women are encouraged to just go along with the rape/ assault for  survival; there are two reasons, the police and the criminal justice system moves the heavens to find and prosecute the criminal in their societies and the woman survives and the society does not remember her identity as a rape victim.  In our world of Indian subcontinent on the other hand, that rape will stay with you and the rapist will stay next door to you…if he is from the privileged or political class, he will think this can be a rule, the police and the system will work not for you but against you, and the people around you will never let you forget that you survived.

Remember the woman who walked into the police station with a man’s head, she got tired of him assaulting her so when he tried to find her in the field, she waited and jumped him and then..well the police apparently asked her to drop the head and leave and they would get in touch….they never did!

At least now, all the women in political parties have gone public with the questioning. but when you need help and when you see women being harassed, the only out is to get in!  You need women’s clubs and secret societies that understand the skills it takes to act in a crisis, to finish.  his balls, his dick, his face, his eyes….the only thing worth knowing is that he/ they will not spare you, don’t fight to save your self, fight to destroy him…”let frailty not be your middle name”  let it be furious.

and yes if he is caught and convicted…get the signatures to hang him…save the other women….

and legally: rape needs to be an un-bailable offense, 1 month trial, expose family of the culprit to the shame and stigma, make huge civil settlements, and study ways to understand rapist psychology and change it to one of fear and deterrence

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