Wednesday, October 31, 2012

50 Different Types of Facebook Users

Facebook was one of the best inventions of this century and Mark Zuckerberg needs to be thanked a million  times for huddling and holding the world together. While it has turned out to be a morning manner for some and an inevitable evening activity for many, turning down the TRP's of many eight pm teleserials, this platform of social networking has brought a lot of undiscovered personality traits in us. I made a closer call and saw this

There are 50 different kinds of facebook users as per my observations

1) The one who befriends you with 125 mutual friends in the list, but still doesn't know you and will never talk to you.
2) The one who still plays Farmville and are constantly sending you invitations for Farmville 2.
3) The one who plays all the games that uses facebook as a platform and floods your inbox with their invitations.
4) The one who adds every person who sends a friend request to them.
5) The best friends who blow kisses and keep sending hugs many times in a day on each other's walls.
6) The one who pokes everyone on their list.
7) The one who is always logged out of chat.
8) The one who changes their profile picture everyday.
9) The one who changes their profile picture every week.
10) The one who never sets their own picture as the profile photo. 
11) The one who will never change their profile picture.
12) The alarms clocks who have made it a deed to wish everyone "Good Morning" and "Good night" ever day.
13) The one who updates everything on their walls by using facebook mobile, just to show how busy they are to ever use a laptop.
14) The compulsive liker.
15) The person who wishes "Happy birthday" to everyone, every day on their list, not missing out on a single day unless of course they are chronically ill.
16) The obsessed commentor.
17) The one who tags you in bad pictures, not of your interest and only their interest.
18) The one who untags themselves from every picture, they ever were tagged in.
19) The one who writes notes everyday, and tags all their friends to it.
20) The one who has 50 photo albums consisting of pictures that aren't theirs.
21) The person who puts quotes as status updates everyday.
22) The deeply depressed facebook user who updates their status with sad song lyrics often.
23) The silent watcher who rarely likes, comments or posts anything.
24) The philosopher whose status updates are as vague as they can get, with  squarely senseless replies to them.
25) The social activist raring to change the world.
26) The ones who post updates and posts on their wall, not for others to see but for themselves to read and watch, much like a bookmark.
27)  The facebook "friend" who takes up fights publicly, knowingly or unknowingly.
28) The person who always requests you to "like" their status updates.
29) The "eternal" brag box who has boasted about all their achievements in life, right from their grade twelve percentile to their intelligence quotient.
30) The "Page 3" facebook user who invites you to every event that will be held under the sun.
31) The person who gets annoyed when someone unfriends them.
32) The married couple who shares a joint facebook account with a joint name such as "Maria and Thomas Anthony" always leaving their friends in a fix as to who did it, when someone posts something on the wall.
33) The grandma who just learnt to use the Internet and doesn't know the difference between status updates and comments.
34) The couple who fights and makes up to often switch between their relationships statuses. 
35) The ones who can't keep their personal lives under wraps.
36) The sports commentators who appear on facebook during an India-Pakistan or India-Australia match and floods your wall with live commentary. 
37) The chronic liker who likes your status updates and posts everyday and sometimes minutes after being posted on your wall.
38) The one who has owed fanship to every page ever created on facebook.
39) The shameless advertisers of their blog and websites.
40) The user who just had a baby and is keen on exposing the life of the child to the world.
41) The one who adds the prefix Dr. to their profile name just to hoot the trumpets about their achievements in life.
42) The user who always posts help columns or "DIY" columns that holds their interest.
43) The one who updates their status every two or three hours with nothing interesting to share, except for cribbing or cussing.
44) The addict.
45) The addict who tries to act as if they do not care two hoots about the existence of facebook.
46) The advise seeker who can never make up their mind about anything in life 
47) The one who can't post a status update in the first time, and needs to redo it always.
48) The user who is obsessed with the facebook maps and is always updating their latest location on it.
49) An eight year old who lied about their age to make a profile, or an eight year old's mom who has made a profile for them so that they can gift it to them on their eighteenth birthday.
50) The one who doesn't have a facebook profile.

I fall into more than one of these categories and this was a post I did for harmless fun. Do not lynch me after reading this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Irony of Traditions!

It's that time of the year again.  Dasara also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi.  The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, "Matru Devo Bhava."  Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind; respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity.

If we look at the figures of sex ratio in India, according to the 2011 Census, the number of girls stands at 940 which is a marginal increase from 933 in 2001. Not surprisingly, Haryana has the lowest sex ratio among the states while Kerala remains at the top with the highest sex ratio. In the national capital Delhi, the statistics stand at 821 girls against 1000 boys in 2001 compared to 866 in 2011. 

According to the statistics, nearly 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in the country over the past two decades. Of the 12 million girls born in India, one million do not see their first birthdays. 

What sort of a celebration is this when the femininity is devotedly doted upon while on every second street corner a woman is mauled. Sometimes as a foetus, for having had the XX combination of chromosomes and many times as a woman who is nothing more than a huma who is supposed to confine herself in the cage of clothing she wears. As a foetus,  her father and her grand parents had already been damned with the thought of  doling up dowry for her sometime in the future. Dowry being the bride price the parents of a woman pay to buy her conjugal rights into a household, with not much exceptions to say a no to it. If she manages to see the light of the day, she is not sent to schools, is made to milk buffaloes, cook and clean while her brother is sent to study and given good clothes to wear. And forcibly married to a guy, eons elder to her while she rents out her womb with the dowry to bring out a male heir for her husband's family. She isn't asked to voice her opinion about whether she wants to marry and bear kids, these are her duties towards a sexist society that considers womanhood synonymous to a womb. This way she becomes the symbol of family honour, dare she doesn't offer herself for this role, she isn't allowed to live. This is the story of the villages, where a woman is the emblem of social and religious biases. If we hop on to the cities it is no better. Foetuses are thrown into dustbins or fed to dogs for a little over two thousand rupees that the doctor charges, after having been killed in posh localities, where boys are still preferred over girls as a status symbol and the legal heir to the property and family business. Again, if she lives, she is sent to school without any signs of discrimination, until the roles of home making don't give her a call which is supposedly not taught to her brother. She  has to dress down to save her soul and isn't not allowed to go to parties and pubs for she may be punished in the name of morality. After she marries, she is burnt with the explosion of a cylinder,  for she did not bring the cash and kind that her husbands family had anticipated for.

While she is out on the streets, she is raped by a thousand men with two thousand eyes yearning to get a glimpse of her cleavage or her legs. Men are waiting on the streets, to lift women for no reasons or chase a woman to give her a heart attack in triplicates, so that from the very next day, she can be this coy cat who is dropped to work or college by her dad or brother. I have for so many times, dreaded doing the rounds of the Rajiv Chowk metro station or travelling by buses for the fear of being groped by men, for its an ill wind that blows in the life of us women, that has done us no good. Even then it is a hapless habit when it comes to travelling everyday for work or college. If a woman gets raped in this part of the world, the fear of societal stigma keeps her from even reporting the matter to the police. They say shamelessly that she deserved it, never letting conviction be confirmed in most cases of sexual harassment, molestation or rape, each a mutated manifestation of how patriarchal and pervert this male dominated society is. 

Rather than empowering the woman and giving her a reason to celebrate her femininity, the society has made her weak and always runs to cover her up. She needs her father as a daughter, a husband as a wife and when he bids farewell to the world her sons as a mother. Again I wonder,  how will the calculations be considered if she has no sons? 
The sleeping dogs start lying when talks of equality get a voice owing to the media and social networking, while she is expected to accept a seat in the buses or metro, for that they say is her right. A separate coach for women in the metro or the reservation in the Parliament or for that matter the ladies queues in government offices has only added fuel to the fire. These have only made her weaker not sponsoring the cause for which she has been fighting for long. Equality! 
Ironically, travelling in a compartment full of women or seeing a man vacate his seat for me doesn't make me felicitate freedom, that supposedly the government thinks is enabling empowerment to the fairer sex.

When Shakti is being glorified in gold, in pooja pandals all over the country, a female foetus is thrown in the bin for dogs to devour while in another part of the country a girl from a poor family is being sold for a little over ten thousand rupees to a rich farmer in Haryana so that she can be a breeding machine for his babies and a sex object with which the man can play.  

In a country where femininity is being plundered, looted and even traded for a few thousand rupees, is this vain inglorious deification of goddesses so necessary, just to tout for traditions? Shouldn't we tirelessly toil to first make the open spaces safer for women, before trying to glorify goddesses of stone and gold? Hasn't hypocrisy being written in bold letters all over the walls of homes, that testify of Shakti but, are killing their girls and women to root for misinformed misogyny! And do you think the goddesses will be pleased any day, if only what is happening continues, to never see light at the end of the tunnel?  

Monday, October 22, 2012


A funnel of face wash
and bisected bottles
of balms and butter.
Within crabbed cellophane
and an old book, half read
torn into tales.
Between those lies a protocol
unfinished and undone
and theories of velocity
in motion not gaining momentum
What a mess, life has become
a rigid ritual put down as a pact on paper
between thousand threads
trailing along time and the Almighty
We are nothing more than
those containers and cartons,
waiting to be cast away like clutter
into a casket christened in our name.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Long live the Facebook Restrict List

With changing times facebook has become an essential entity of our lives. No matter whatever we do, and however we try to keep away from it, it comes back much like a lost puppy that never got lost. What has eternally been enticing about facebook is the "Restrict List". I think I am one of the those users of facebook who will forever be thankful to Zuckerberg for inventing the Restrict List.

What is funniest, is when cousins meet and ask me "Do you use facebook?"

Pat comes the reply with a  yes after a Manmohan Singh styled "lip pursing act" which doesn't manage to attract eye balls popping into a space I am wishing to defend like a watch dog. Slowly but surely I send them a friend request to not hurt the sentiments of a family that had for long been a species of siblings sharing blood and allergies, not to forget the frailty of forgetfulness that was a game nature has played on them.

Again a "no" will usually be a lie I won't be able to pull off well! I know I can't give Mulayam Singh Yadav a run for his money anytime in this life!

Then for a while, I keep a watch on when they will accept the request for that will be the fateful day when your world will come crashing down and your image will take a toss. Any new friend request I send to my relatives is often a victim of a "high blood pressure" syndrome that can make the BP apparatus burst, in all those moments of animated anxiety. And once I know they are in my boat, I immediately take action, and put them in the "Restrict list"! A doing that has been happening since long and for which I have often felt guileless, as guilty as a married man sneaking to watch Fashion TV in the middle of the night!

Now for people who do not know what a restrict list is, let me tell you it is the option that appears in front of you when you click the Privacy settings, then select "Manage blocking"  and finally tap on the Add friends to your restricted list. This way you stay in the good books of many of the people you cannot afford to give a cold shoulder to! For they stay in your facebook friend list while you continue your nasty nagging on the social networking scene and on blogger, not hurting their old world opinions.

As a girl, one has to take care of so much, especially to not irk the millions of people around you, and these people called relatives! The very first of clans who can get "judgmental" about anything under the sun that girls like me do! Thank God for the restrict list! It is the perfect place to stash away these kind, who can only frown and complain about the modern mannerisms that Indian girls have adapted themselves to, without batting an eyelid, without worrying about how the moral police will treat them?
My restricted list consists of relatives, cousins, people from the church, who have lost hopes of ever turning me into a homely marriage material and not to forget the patriarchal church fathers who might discover about my evil feminist enterprises and may someday report it to the higher authorities in the family, I  mean my parents.

Oh yes I am a bitch and plan to stay so, meanwhile as an Indian girl the thoughtless Indian theories need to be taken care of! While they have been thrashed into the Restrict list, the nose pokers and mindless moralists I enjoy my cup of coffee and continue with feminist activism on my blog and facebook, uninterpreted and fearlessly.

On second thoughts, Rinzu says,

Long live the Restrict list. It is the best feature of the place called facebook we all so wondrously wait to loiter in.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

That Someone's Bride

She has preserved those
pencil portraits
and stencil symptoms
a mosaic of saris
dabbed in charcoal clouds
jagged joints and
anaemic asthma,
to memories that
are tinctured tints
all are the blueprints
of the butter burned
on her skin.

She remembers the day
the sun rose
from behind the silken shade
in their bedroom
to the hour she became
a rag doll ranted with ravage
she couldn't say a no
for the practice and the prize
as she removed her relics
from the room.

The sky aged and
the wind chimes walloped
at the window
when he wrote his name
on her agile arm
with crayons chalked
by his canvas.

She saw it all till
she couldn't swallow
her sweat,
today the copper he gave
her has melted
and so has the promise
a scraping with a scissor
and a welted womb
sometimes reminds her
of the times she was
someone's bride.

First published in the inaugural issue of the Kalyani magazine available here .

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

English Vinglish---The Story of a Simple Indian Woman

After having taken a hiatus of four years from visiting the movie theater, this Monday I happened to step into one. The reason was strongly feminist and very personal as well. A movie revolving around the life of a woman was my object of interest with the trailers packing a punch for strong feminists like me. Sridevi being the second reason. This time though there was no comedy or dance to sweep you away. All that she displayed was poise and grace, stepping into the shoes of a typical  Indian woman  who was under-educated but wise.

The movie is about a middle age Maharashtrian housewife who lives with her husband, mother in law and kids in some part of Pune. She was not convent educated unlike her daughter who is studying in class seventh, which doesn't allow her to speak in the Queen's language. Even though she has a rare talent of making ladoos and is a small time entrepreneur. Both her weak English and her flair for making ladoos aren't a hit with her family. The director tellingly proves through many sequences that English is the status symbol of modern day India, and an individual's inability to converse in it can be a social embarrassment for the family.

Fate takes a different turn, when one day her sister calls her inviting her to the United States to help with her elder daughter's wedding. It happens to be a blessing in disguise when one day while out on an expedition of the city, she happens to see a notice which claims to make you affluent in spoken English in 45 days. She remembers the telephone number printed on the notice and from there begins the journey that changes her life for good.
She finds a group of friends who bond over harmless racist jokes and the language English. There are no borders in the language class and  a sensible Shashi to save the souls of the students there. She also tried to enlighten the common Indian viewer on the insensitivity towards homosexuality in a scene where her friends make fun of the homosexual teacher's heart break and she gives wisdom on why the heart doesn't understand the sex of the partner when in love.Therefore as the heterosexuals even homosexuals have the same kind of feelings when it comes to the matters of the heart.

Shashi finds a very special friend  in Laurent, the french chef who makes her believe in herself  unlike her husband who is ashamed of her wife's culinary skills and often arrogantly advises her to give away making ladoos. They both live and learn and talk their hearts out. In one of the conversations, where in Sridevi calls cooking as the duty for the women and an art for men, the director has tried to display the odds existing in the world. Both Shashi and Laurent share a common passion in cooking and have reverence for each other as opposed to Shashi's family who always belittle her for the abilities and inabilities she has. I particularly loved the scene where in Laurent admires her beauty and she runs for cover, only because she had forgotten what it is to be admired. Such was their chemistry, that they do need languages to pour their hearts out.

What I disliked the most was the portrayal of Shashi as a typical Indian woman who is rolled into her responsibilities of being a wife, daughter and mother. Why did she have to give up on her English classes when her son hurts his foot? Why couldn't the father take care of the child and let the woman discover herself as she exercises her right to education. Like the Karan Johar romance, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I would have loved it if Shashi could have gone to Laurent, a man who honestly respected her unlike her husband of many years.

So also, she looks gorgeous in the saris she sports and has definitely made a comeback for the intelligent Bollywood lovers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spare A Thought For Those Who Brought You Up

Indian sons, and their wives, aren't treating their aged parents well. A study on abuse of India's elderly, conducted across 20 cities and involving over 5,500 older people, has found that almost 1 in 3 (32%) have faced abuse. The son has been found to be the primary abuser in 56% of cases, followed by the daughter-in-law in 23% cases in a survey conducted by the Hep age India.

While these might be the revelations made by a study, I am reminded of the many cases of the brutal battering that elderly were meted out by their sons. The most inhuman case I ever heard of made a son, who was the legal heir to the property, put his surviving mother in the dog's kennel where she was served food and made to live in forcible fear. 

A woman in India has rights and privileges as a human as long as her husband is alive, since the identity of a woman is recognized with a husband and with the married status. In most cases since a wife is younger than the husband and since women have been known to live longer as per this survey that says that at the age of 80 years and above, 71 per cent of women and only 29 per cent of men have lost their spouse, older people, in this case women end up being alone in their twilight years.

This is because social biases do not allow remarriages and seeking refuge in old care homes, owing to the gender discrimination that Indian women are meted out and the dirty tricks Indian culture keeps playing to mull the ideologies of womanhood. Again for all the sacrifices they make as young women, with many retorting to live as "stay at home" moms, career planning is ignored or put on the back burner which adversely affects financial planning and too much dependency on the husband.

If the husband passes away earlier than the wife, which happens in most cases owing to the higher life expectancy of Indian women, the mother is left in the lurch. And a feud for the family property erupts with the mother complying to the son's demands in most cases, making her a dependent on the son and daughter in law. In most Indian homes, daughters are absolved of all rights in her birth home, the day she gets married and dowry is given to her, which in most cases is seen as her share of the paternal property. In this case, daughters are asked to stay away from their birth homes and consider the conjugal households as the place where their due of the decision making should come into play.

Now to throw some light on what the legality says. Daughters have the same rights and responsibilities as sons and no human force (In this case the brother and his wife!) can hinder them from exercising a liberty the law has allowed.
The day daughters will share the onus of taking care of the parents, they won't be seen as burdens. So also the division of property as son's share and dowry for the daughter can be arrested to allow equitable splitting of rights and duties. Under such circumstances daughters won't be seen as a liability and social evils like female foeticide, female infanticide and dowry deaths would be forgotten fables. 

Somewhere down the line, Indian parents rely too much on sons when it comes to emotional, mental and financial security in the old age. Sadly, this is where the equation has gone wrong. Every adult should plan wisely for the old age with the expectation of living with the son not playing a part while they chart out their retirement. Retirement can be the best time of the life with a bit of saving for the rainy day. 

Even as home makers, women can put aside a small amount of money every month for the future or can invest in pension schemes which won't make them very reliant on their husband's share of the property. There are also investment options that makes the "spouse" a beneficiary in case of a mishap, even those can be put to good use. 
So also, both women and men must learn to live without their spouses in case of an eventuality in the future with the decision making about property left at the will of the surviving partner.