Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I'm in a complaining mood...

The Indian modern household is still waging its wars in trying to cope with home management and careers, children, relationships, ageing parents and a burgeoning life style that economic upward mobility entices one towards. Unlike the West we have not got many of the basic amenities in place that offer an easier methodology to make this  balancing act of all these factors less exhaustive. 

My list of complaints is founded on my own experiences where time and effort have often been more than required to get through a day. Let me start off by pointing out that in most Indian hospitals there is this absurd expectancy that one member of a family has to be with the patient at all times 24 X 7. This is even when as patient is in the intensive care unit! As a care giver to my mother this has often led me to being sleep deprived where it is personally dangerous to my own well being. Ok....then the logical answer would be to get professional nursing aid to do this duty. Well be my guest and try to get competent professionals! On employing professional care givers I have conducted spot checks on them only to find  nurses hired for night duty in the recovery unit of the ICU, fast asleep with the blanket over their heads, oblivious to the patients safety or needs! 

Car pool systems for school going kids and agencies for educated babysitters, volunteer groups who can socialise with the ageing, services of plumbing, electrification and carpentry as phone-in facilities, maid procurement agencies that are efficient and reliable, part time drivers, laundries and dry cleaning services that are hygienic and efficient and standardised; cleaning agencies for home and office purposes, professional shoppers.... the list is LONG....  are all yet to make their entry in a structured and organised manner in India.  We need such help and facilities desperately, and with the joint family system not being the norm any longer, alternative structures of help need to be available especially when families have responsibilities that span both the domestic and the professional.

The concept of something like a delicatessen hasn't found its mark in India. To just hop in and get a varied menu for an impromptu dinner that you can jazz up with a few home additions to is inconceivable. The Indian super market culture is also terribly bizarre. You are held at ransom to buy brands that they promote instead of being offered a wide range of products which would enable a client to have their personal choice catered to. Agencies like Croma for example,  are lousy places to shop at because product quality is seriously compromised due to their lack of understanding the concept of multi-brand selling; and after sales services from such outlets is wishful thinking and if at all provided, then shabby at best. 

India needs to fix its unorganised  labour problems urgently. Migrant labourers standing on the curbs of side walks each morning waiting for majduri is a strange sight to see. Contractors haggle with them and as they are migrant labourers whose wage rights and issues of housing are no bodies concern, they are exploited.  They have insecure livelihoods and yet we all use them when we need to unashamedly.  

I want the simple convenience of getting value for my money in India. From door frames to windows to assemble-able homes....the hardware and home-stores in North America and many other western countries are treasure troves for. Here in India I get all excited if I see a new styled mop in a shop! Pet stores and animal amenities are common place abroad yet in India we have to search to find one that is well stocked in the products and companies that you need.  I am constantly anxious each time Begum's food stock starts dwindling. Then its panic mode time as we start waiting weeks for a simple order of cat food to make its appearance.

Dust and dirt are another factor of Indian life I want eradicated like polio and small pox! Side-walks are only what I see in foreign films, and I drive around Baroda feeling like Pig-pen a character from Charles Shultz's comic cartoon strip "Peanuts" who is always shown in a cloud of dust!  Another observation I have made is that technology serves only those of us who have made it a point to comprehend and use it appropriately. However there are many in India who are ill equipped and are at a huge disadvantage as a result.  The on line systems are often  nightmarish situations when we have to use them for things like visa or passport renewals. 

All in all I do wish we could logically look at the missing factors that progress and development may have caused,  and fill in those gaps. I often feel frustrated that the obvious is just not being addressed. Perhaps we need to have management institutes make projects that address effective ways of making modern India  have functioning services  that meet the demands of today. Till then it is going to continue to be exhaustive and draining to live amidst progress that has one hand tied behind its back!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Let women decide their own futures.....

I am tired of a compromised liberal space where women and marriage are seen as synonymous. I am tired of the same old story of conservatism about marriage being camouflaged as concerned parenting that propagates the typical as the norm.  I am tired of parents wanting their female children to address the issue of marriage even before their post graduate certificates are inked and stamped. I am tired of hearing retrogressive arguments about how young women only realise their sense of completion by being wives, and of course therefore in the logical progression of this sequence, fulfilling their destinies as mothers. I am tired of the voice of patriarchy attempting to undermine the voice of the girl child on issues of equality and equal opportunities. I am tired of emotional blackmail and coercion from parents to "persuade" young women to toe the line and fit into the mould of predetermined futures laid out by elders. I am tired of repairing the damage that these suffocating  spaces of insistence create,  where guilt and desperation slowly weigh heavy on the formative minds of children, and where I have to spend hours erasing the hurt that such conformity creates in their lives.  I am tired of the hypocrisy of those parents who educate their female children but do little to encourage them to focus on a career as an essential priority . Perhaps above all I am  most tired of seeing the light dim in the eyes of these young women who are all achievers, desperate to be allowed to grapple with life on their own terms and who seek to find the joy of defining their uniqueness from this challenge,  unfettered by the manipulation of conservative mindsets. 

Marriage....marriage....marriage.....This word seems imprinted onto the brains of most Indian parents, especially for their female off-springs. The arranged marriage orchestrated by parents or other family members, when opposed by the child concerned, is viewed as rebellion. Resistance on the issue of marriage is combated by the elders by making it a topic of conversation at all times privately and publicly despite the discomfort of the child, and which becomes akin to mental torture and harassment as far as I am concerned. This harassment  is offensive to my ideals of freedom because it is demeaning to the fundamental principles of free thinking in which people ( both men & women equally) should be able to make choices about their lives  for themselves, and need not have to wage wars with their families to live an independent life for themselves. The idea that a woman may desire to choose her partner, male or female; or to have a live in relationship, or to stay single,  is completely her choice alone and must remain so without the melodramas of family interference.

When obliged to fight with their families to uphold these basic rights of personal choice and self governance,  family ties often become strained as these children look else where to be nurtured and guided. None of them in my experience have ever shirk the disciplines of hard work nor desired freebees. What they look for is to be respected and taken seriously within their chosen field. The sense of duty that asian children have towards their families should not be abused by parents in ways that go against the norms of  decency and human rights.  I am always deeply saddened that Indian parents think it is perfectly alright to discuss their "anxieties" about the marriage issues of their female children with these children's  teachers, instead of desiring to speak about their work, their academic achievements or their future as artists. But no....to the alter we women must all gallop before our shelf life expires. 

I have intervened in many of my own friends lives when pushy parents were pressing the marriage button in panic as their off springs were not "hooked-up" to wedded bliss. One of my girl friends living in the US in desperation gave her number to an Indian taxi driver (who was on the look out for a green card wife ) in whose cab she was traveling in,  who couldn't speak English (!) and who was uneducated beyond the 9th grade (!!), and merely because the daily droning of her mothers marriage lectures had caused a melt down. Another friend more recently was ready to walk down the aisle with a guy who was clearly dubious in character and absolutely incompatible with her in every possible aspect. When I reasoned with her it became apparent to me that the pressures of a mother who wanted her married at all cost had clouded her better judgement because the topic was wearing her down mentally. She allowed for intervention to guide her back on track. However  a large percentage of women succumb to the wearing down that finally gnaws at their self respect and humiliates them into acceptance.

Leave women alone please. Let us live without interference with our freedom that amounts to mental torture and criminal harassment.  We have skewered the ratio of our female population by aborting female fetuses for decades in our national craze to bear only male progenies. It is a blatant disregard to the issues of  life and liberty that our constitution is supposed to uphold, but few are reprimanded and no legal action is taken for those thousands of female babies whose lives were stilled knowingly before their eyes could even open.

Enough is enough.....I am tired of the farce of pseudo-liberal posturing by parents whose conservatism should be questioned and not swept under the carpet. Let us address the dignity of all women appropriately. Pro-choice and self-governance is the bedrock of all feminist empowerment and no one can undermine these basic and fundamental factors of our freedom. So be forewarned as my patience has clearly worn down. I have no political correctness I wish to muster in situations of social engagement when I am faced with retrogressive parenting. I just call a spade a spade and brook no long drawn out explanations about the whys and hows of the relevance of the institution of marriage being necessary  for  women. So walk along buddies because I'm through with this debate forever! It's old and boring and redundant .....and I'm indignant and outraged that we are going on like broken records about women = marriage. Enough is enough....move on please!