December 24, 2010
courtesy Postsecret Favorites via Flickr
Read: “I want an Arranged Marriage”.
No, you don’t.
No, you don’t want an arranged marriage.
(I understand it’s an emotional argument to make. I also understand that I can’t make blanket statements. I am going to violate every cardinal rule of argument or political correctness — you know, that convention that prevents us social anthropologists from saying that one tradition is inherently better than the other.)
The writer has chosen not to reveal her name. This is smart. She is clearly confused and her thoughts are badly organized. If she gave her real name, she would have been pilloried across the internet.
This story was a mishmash of disjointed orientalist stereotypes, and it should not have been run. I love the Frisky’s GirlTalk segments as a rule, but this is awful. I hope against hope that this doesn’t turn into a farce of Gilbert-style proportions.
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October 23, 2010
For better or for worse, Arundati Roy never ceases to amaze me.
The following is from her piece in Outlook India on the upsurge of Maoist activity in India, and what it means for capitalism in that country.
It was early spring, the sun was sharp, but still civilised. This is a terrible thing to have to say, but it’s true: you could smell the protest from a fair distance. It was the accumulated odour of a thousand human bodies that had been dehumanised, denied the basic necessities for human (or even animal) health and hygiene for years, if not a whole lifetime. Bodies that had been marinated in the refuse of our big cities, bodies that had no shelter from the harsh weather, no access to clean water, clean air, sanitation or medical care. No part of this great country, none of the supposedly progressive schemes, no single urban institution has been designed to accommodate them. Not the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, not any other slum development, employment guarantee or welfare scheme. Not even the sewage system—they shit on top of it. They are shadow people, who live in the cracks that run between schemes and institutions. They sleep on the streets, eat on the streets, make love on the streets, give birth on the streets, are raped on the streets, cut their vegetables, wash their clothes, raise their children, live and die on the streets.
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September 16, 2010
My mother has enough of the craziness and retreats upstairs early. I follow her, because I long for a nap. But my mother looks like she’s got one of her excellent nuggets of gossip. No matter how tired I am, I am always in the mood for a good piece of gossip.
We lie down together on the bed upstairs — I’m in love with the blue ridged bedsheets — and my mother says,
I’m so tired.
What now? I ask.
(I hope she gets to the point soon, because this mattress is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced and these sheets make it look like I’m in the middle of the ocean.)
The maid? my mother starts.
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September 13, 2010
the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, via Flickr user kcheevious
This is my first real post in my series of posts on India. I promise I’ll actually follow through with the series this time. I have so, so much to say.
Aside from an awesome ninja airline employee who allows us to clear every security check in a matter of seconds — and an annoying dipshit who sits in front of me and reclined her chair into my knees for the duration of the flight — the flight is uneventful.
When I reach, the house is calm. It is a deceptive calm. My grandmother start crying a little when she sees my father, but she holds it together. My mother hates her in-laws so she skulks at the back, putting suitcases away.
Our house is a fortress. It is humongous and in a neighborhood surrounded by other bungalows. Most of the neighbors live in tacky monstrosities that exist between fetid piles of garbage. Actually, my grandmother’s is not so much tacky as it is a hodgepodge collection of granite boxes squished together by an inhuman fist.
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September 11, 2010
Last week I went to India for my grandfather’s funeral. The rites are still going on and will stop only on Wednesday, the thirteenth day after his death.
Now that I’m back I realize how acute my vertigo is. I’m dizzy because of the sudden lack of external stimulation.
I have so much to tell you all. I have learned nothing about the man I was supposed to mourn but I’ve learned a lot about many other things. I’ve learned about thwarted and colorful dreams. I’ve heard about one forbidden romance — and caught the other in the act. I learned some thrilling things about my family history. I am at my wits end with W’s sister and her wedding. A (female) pimp tried to pick me up without my knowing it.
I fell in love with a woman.
This and more coming up, one at a time.
For now, though, I’m too tired to talk. I got off the plane mere hours ago, and the idiot who sat in front of me had it in for my knees.
July 6, 2010
Lately, I’ve been reading poems by two famous historical poetesses — Rabi’a Al-Adawiyya and Mirabai.
Rabi’a Al-Adawiyya was born around 801 BC to very poor parents in Basra, Iraq. She later became a slave until, according to fable, she was emancipated by a master in awe of her intense devotion to God.
Mirabai, on the other hand, was Rajput royalty, born 1498 AD — seven centuries after her Iraqi counterpart.
Their backgrounds make for a fascinating study of contrasts: Rabi’a was a former slave and Mirabai spent the first twenty years of her life as a princess in one of the wealthiest city-states in the world. Life, however, eventually saw them as ascetics. Mirabai gave up her marriage to follow Krishna and Rabi’a became a Sufi holy woman, wandering through Iraq seeking solitude.
It’s amazing how much these two women from vastly different eras had such similar ideas about God.
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July 2, 2010
We call it “street harassment” here, but “eve teasing” sounds cleverer. It’s the Indian term for street harassment. There’s a reason why the Indians use such a creative term for this problem. Actually, I wouldn’t call it creative — I don’t like the term — and I’ll explain why that is later.
I worked in India during the summer of ’07 and I was on the receiving end of much eve teasing. I never dressed provocatively. For the most part I wore shalwar kameezes. Sometimes I wore jeans and t-shirts. And though genetics has blessed me with big tits, that wasn’t the real issue (though I admit, it didn’t help). I was a woman on the road, and that’s all it took.
The sustained harassment made it very easy for me to see men as beasts. Not the nicest tactic, I know. But it stopped me from living my life there in a cycle of desperation and anger. If I treated these aggressors like crazy, schizophrenic squirrels with sex drives, the problem became simpler for me to understand. I dehumanized them the way they dehumanized me, and psychologically, it worked. Condescension is a powerful weapon.
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