Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The politics of dressing up- Narrative 1

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about Saraswati Pujo which is, and continues to be, one of the most read ones on this space of mine. An eventful winter and many ceremonies later, this Saraswati pujo arrived and I finally got to attend one in person after five long years. The festivities, the mirth and the golden hues jamdani would make for an absolutely delicious feel good post...but I have some food for thought and winter adda too.

A facebook post doing rounds and being shared incessantly by many (including many of my erudite friends) shows the juxtaposition of two pictures- one old and one new against each other and asking a pertinent question of our times. The old picture shows an old black and white photograph of two young girl-ladies draped in traditional saris posing in front of the camera in their natural coy and shy manner. A sign of their times may be. I am no one to judge or comment. 
The newer photograph shows two young girls of (probably) Calcutta posing while showing off their well toned backs peeping out from the made to order backless cholis, on Saraswati pujo morning. The caption that goes along is- "erporeo ki bolbe meyera pichiye ache" (Will you still say girls lag behind?) or something of similar tune.

Having taken note of the question posed and the furious amount circulation which makes it in line to beanother stand alone joke on facebook- I do have a question of mine- How is the question of women liberation, blah blah and progress even related to the images of women dressing up differently probably on a scale of 100 years and being playful with their cholis? Does that backless choli ring your modesty bell, mister?

We really are a generation full of stupid people who judge beauty, development and progress by just the way we look...or the way we dress? who told that the person wearing Prada and who dines at the fines of the restaurants is not regressive enough to decide the perfect match for himself  going by the horoscope of the bride? (since that's how it goes till now in most of the cases)

Who is the one to decide that the real life jounrney of a brash young lady from a dingy South Calcutta lane to be one of the most popular and dynamic leader of a very complicated state in India is not a success story- a story of progress- clad through out in her taant sari and hawai chappals?

Who decides if the girl in Purulia who protests against child marriage and under age marital abuses clad in her simple salwar suits has not light years ahead of the girls posing in their backless cholis. I am not disputing their modernity, but who told that women liberation was all about dressing up? Will the brand of lipstick decide how far we have moved?

I am sure many people are conversant with the works of Ashapurna Debi, in Bengali and in translation. She had once very simply portrayed the tribulations and three generations of women empowerment in Bengal through her trilogy of books- 1. Prothom Protisruti 2. Subornolota 3. Bokul Kotha. None of her heroines wore fashionable clothes...but did that make them or the millions of women from post partition refugee families who went out to seek work and defined the economic independence of women in Bengal and India any less progressive? ( Ashapurna Debi was just my reference point here. The same goes with Ismat Chugtai or Mallika Sengupta.)

Who told that those two young ladies from that photograph had not moved ahead of their times while posing in front of the camera?  Or do we just judge a woman by the way she looks- till today? The backless choli hurts and we know why. We still want woman to conform to her very sacred and shy image that goes with our sugar and spice everything nice mindset. So we prefer them nicely covered. In case they are not, the Delhi CM goes out and issues a statement about women not 'venturing' out in the night- even if her professional commitments demand so.

In the end- the thought that clouds my mind is that whether I will be termed a hardcore feminist after writing this one, after all we are tagged one in case we think anything on our own and about our conscience. Thing about it guys!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Munch on!

1. I love the way he makes early morning tea for me. The perfect blend. The wonderful warmth :)

2. I have again fallen in love with cooking. The random aloo pneyajkoli bhaja that I try to fry for him in the nonstick kadhai before he leaves for office and I sit with my work in front of the laptop, gives me a high. 

3. I realised I have got too many expensive saris for my wedding. Saris I do not know when to wear. And that gives me more reason to shop and get a new pair of jeggings. 

4.Oh! that reminds I am yet to wear almost two new dresses that he got for me from Amreeka. And the brand new Tarun Tahiliani exclusive evening wear that I got as a part of my wedding trousseau from my shashuri ma :)

5. I am so bad at housekeeping...am yet to put things in proper order in mine and deep's new pad.

6. Tasted Litti for the first time with amazing chokha while we visited Jamshedpur, my hubby deearest's home, this weekend. Being the 'notun bou' I was pampered silly with all my favourite delicacies being cooked in one single weekend and awesome neighbours sending in sheetkaler peethey payesh. Truly speaking I am the proverbial city girl who can't sleep through if she doesn't get the hint of honking horns outside in the street (it's a different story altogether that my house and the location as such in Calcutta has gifted me many a envious glances- the ones I enjoyed to the hilt) - but I will agree with the fact that small towns have a charm of their own. Got to see his school, heard stories of adulation that he earned while he went to IIT. Obviously! I was a very proud wife then. Laughed my heart out while hearing stories of his idiosyncrancies. Each incident (and each day!) makes me realise that I have truly married a geek.

7. Finished a new Suchitra Bhattacharya book while on my way back from Jamshedpur to Calcutta. It was really chilly out there....but my shourbari's garden was beaming with freshly bloomed Dahlias and flowers I was not even aware of. My shashuri ma had packed a bunch of bananas from the garden's tree and I quite stupidly asked her whether thor (the vegetable) grew from a banana tree :P (blame my city habits)

8.A friend recently asked- "So has anything changed after marriage?"

My answer to that will always remain an emphatic YES! The wedding and the cacophony of Anandabazar reporting almost 'Londonesque' weather in Calcutta, I realize that I refuse to come out of that 'just married' state. And that is going to continue for a long, long time :P But yes, equations do change. Earlier my mom used to pester me whether I would be able to cook or make one single cup of tea for my hero hiralal after marriage...now she is the one who tells me not to work so hard :P

Jokes apart, Marriage (though I am no Baba or counsellor to say that) is a boon. It makes you aware, responsible and all that comes wrapped in the flavour of nolen gurer sondesh. Beat that!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012



Quite a crazily proud proclamation as it may be- but yes! am married....to the man I knew was the one quite tailor made for me. The realization had struck me the very first time we exchanged emails....and rituals, customs, lal benarasi sari, topor mathay bor, a rather warm December day and the big fat bong wedding over......almost a year later since the day we keyed in a few words through a very formal mail on our parents' insistance- I, sorry, 'we' stick to that.

People often ask me whether it is an arranged marriage, how did we meet and stuff. I suppose people going through our wedding website must have an idea by now(the one I laboriously did content writing for and my utterly geeky tech friendly hubby dearest supervised :p). We met through a very traditional arranged matchmaking set up where our parents talked first....saw whether our educational, professional and family backgrounds were compatible. But somewhere I started believe in the lore- 'every marriage is based on love'- without that it just cannot survive.

Yesterday or the day before that while setting up our new place in the city of my dreams- Calcutta- I asked him a question- "did we actually have an arranged marriage". "We had a marriage....a lovely one...Let's not call it names".

I think that profoundly describes it. He is surely the best best thing to have happened to me in a really long, long time.....and I hope it stays like that for years to come. I am not saying that because of the unlimited shopping bonanza he treated me to while in Bangkok. But for the way he held my hand and reassured me while that scarily dangerous snake show in Phuket. To the time we held and hands and took small baby steps in the pristine green waters in Phi Phi....Cheers....here's to many more to come.

Love you Deep. Stay the way you are. I love those fights we have over who is a better cook. And you know I love cooking for you. Thanks for gulping down the gibberish. Thanks for the wonderful family that I added to my own kitty. A mom in law who cooked me a proper six course Bengali meal on my birthday right after the wedding.

The day I turned twenty three, I was holidaying in Agra...visiting probably the most romantic monument on earth- the Taj Mahal with my family.....I had one day thought of finding someone whose love was a as pure as the "subhro sommujol" Taj Mahal.....never knew by the time the days took a turn and I grew a year younger, my life will be so different...for the better. Never knew I will meet you.

Thank you is not enough. **Touchwood** (Am very scared of the evil eye) :)

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