Rantings and Ravings.
Some people call it the greatest city on earth; some think it’s a shithole of vice and greed, cramped living spaces, noise, dirt, and way too many immigrants and tourists. I think it is all of these things and more. New York is a city that you can hear, taste and smell. It’s a place you can feel. And for the past 12 years I have been lucky enough to think of it as home. This is the city where I grew up in a sense, got married, learnt what I wanted to do with my life, made some awful mistakes, got some shit right, and above all collected a crazy, amazing group of friends.
In a few months I won’t live here anymore. I haven’t been able to write about this until now because I was in denial. If-I-pretend-I-am-not-moving-then-I-am-not-moving type of thing. But I am, and as I look out of the window here at Aroma Café on 72nd street (a neighborhood I very rarely find myself in), I wonder what I will miss most about the Big Apple. Will it be public transport, the Hudson River, summer in New York, the variety of everything from food to the classes you can sign up for, the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station, the skyline, or Brooklyn (!)?
I will probably miss all of it, but if I had to pick just one thing it would be the people. I love New Yorkers. They are resilient, can do with little, walk fast, dress well, come from all over the world and are from every walk of life. They are in a hurry (because the left home later than planned and the R train isn’t running), they complain a lot (‘Fucking snow’), look pissed off (‘Fucking cabbies’), are pissed off (‘Fucking pedicure place shut down’) but can be very kind if you are new or lost. They have created a city that embraces you no matter how strange your parents think you are and then that protects you from the narrow-mindedness that exists elsewhere in the world.
Leaving New York won’t be hard – the people…well that’s a whole other thing.
[I wrote this for the feminist blog Ultra Violet, it is the first of a series on Feminism & Humor]
I GREW UP IN India, as the only child of parents who did not expect me to observe any of the socially accepted behaviors for women. My parents thought that ladylike conduct of any kind was a highly over-rated skill set that I could do without. And so I became what I am today: a loudmouth (comedian) who mines her personal and private life for laughs.
My one-woman comedy show, ‘Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety’, debuted in 2010, and is an hour-long monolog about the endless double standards I was subjected to, none of which were shoved at me by my parents but by society in general, and more insidiously, by my peers. For example – good girls kept their legs crossed and their virginity intact for their husbands. The husbands, of course, were droppin’ it low and spreadin’ it wide (a phrase I learnt from Toni Braxton’s mother). None of this has ever made sense to me, and I open my show with a rant against virginity and the forces that push us to cling to it.
I also rant about other stuff like body hair, flatulence, masturbation, and sex within marriage (or is that just masturbation? Hmm…). And all of it is from the perspective of ‘If it’s OK for the boys, why isn’t it OK for us’? As a comedian, you never know what the audience will find funny. You dig deep, you bare your soul, and you hope that someone out there will relate. And so it was to my utter delight (and, let’s be honest, utter relief,) that people got the joke. Especially the women. Not surprising, I suppose, since the show is written from my perspective as a broad.
Soon after my show opened in New York, a journalist from The Huffington Post interviewed me. She had seen it and her first question was ‘Are you a feminist?’ Looking back, this must have been a rhetorical question. Based on the content of my show, I am a feminist, it’s clear as day! But here is the scariest thing in the world, I did not immediately say ‘YES! Yes, I am a feminist’.
Instead, I hemmed and hawed for what felt like an eternity, until my show’s director, Brock Savage, stepped in and informed us both that he was not just a feminist but a proud feminist, and that he could not stand women who didn’t call themselves feminists. And I see his point – women who disown feminism are like poodles who disown PETA.
Human beings always seem so eager to identify with a state or a country or a religious group. We proudly state our affiliations, ‘I am Bengali’, ‘I am Presbyterian’, ‘I am French’. Yet, here I was with a 60-minute act all about the pain and aggravation of being female and afraid to state my association with the group of humans I had the most in common with! What the hell was wrong with me?
Turns out a few things.
To begin with, I was ignorant. I didn’t have a clue about what a feminist was. Growing up in India, I don’t recall hearing the word ‘feminist’, I didn’t know of any strong, powerful, Indian women being described as feminist and to the best of my knowledge, none of them took that mantle upon themselves. Anil Kapoor was my hair role model, no one had a mullet quite like his, or like mine, for that matter, but where were my feminist role models? They were M.I.A, and so if I did call myself a feminist what exactly was I expected to do? As far as I knew, all our battles had been fought and won by 1970. We could vote, bras had been burnt and we were equal to men.
Of course, now that I see this in print, I feel even more ashamed of myself. I hail from a country rife with female infanticide, a country where child-brides are not that uncommon, and where rape cases go unsolved and the perpetrators go unpunished. How could I have thought, even for a moment, that we women were in the clear?
But even after it had dawned upon me that feminism was very much my business, I still wasn’t sure I qualified! I mean weren’t feminists all clever women with degrees in women’s studies, who eschewed pussy-fart jokes, weed, and gossip about other thinner, more toned ladies?
Turns out, feminism does not discriminate. To begin with many feminists are men (case in point, my director Brock) and so, armed with a vagina, I was already better qualified. As for my bad habits – this was feminism not puritanism, so no problem there. And yes, most feminists are highly intelligent and well-read – but I am smart enough, I went to college, and if I put my mind to it, I know I can catch up with all the ‘required’ reading, which by the way, if you have not got to, yet have no fear and start with Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’– it is hilarious and meaningful and hilarious – oh I said that twice – and right there – feminists don’t have to be serious, and so I could continue to be a comedian.
So what was I still afraid of?
If I am to be completely honest, part of my hesitation came from the fear of commitment. Once it had dawned up on me that feminism was very much my business, I understood that being a feminist was a responsibility. A responsibility to set an example, to think about the things that affect our lives, and, most important of all, to act when our hard-won choices are threatened.
Oh my God! That’s a lot of work. Plus, I will have to stand by my word, and I may have to argue with a few people, and I will come off as a shrill, unattractive, man-hating shrew.
NOT TRUE! I was a shrill shrew to begin with, so no need to panic. As for man hating – Brock’s gay – he likes men and he is a feminist – so I should be okay. And yes, of course it’s a commitment that may involve some hard choices, and inspire some arguments, but it’s so worth it! Like a few months ago, when female voters in America cast their ballot in favor of President Obama in the hope that his administration would protect their right to choose. Their voices were heard and he won, thus ensuring our reproductive rights were our business for at least the next four years.
But sadly, America is just one country. The day after the election, a young woman, Savita Halappanawar, died in Ireland because she was denied a life-saving abortion. This awful tragedy could have been so easily avoided if we lived in a world where religious sentiments were considered less important than a woman’s life.
Just a month ago, on December 16th, as anyone not living under a rock knows, a woman in New Delhi was brutalized in a vicious gang rape that eventually killed her. As vile as the event was, it brought out the best in Indian women. I kept up with the aftermath from my apartment in New York and for the first time, I actually felt like women in India had had enough. It wasn’t lip service or fear that was on display, but empathy and courage.
The fact is that this awful tragedy could have been avoided if we lived in a world where women are safe and thus truly equal to men. But we don’t, and this shit has to change. And it can only change if we all band together and tell the world that none of us will tolerate it anymore.
Because we are feminists, goddammit, and that is what we do.
(Published by Times of India Crest)
In a few months I will be 40, and the reason that I am thrilled about it is I can finally tell all those annoying pests who say ‘40 is the new 30’ to shove right off.
40 is not the new 30. I am 40. I have been here for 40 years. Not 39 not 38 and certainly not 30. I get what they are trying to say – in the old days a 40-year-old was an auntyji who had back fat, and wore mom-jeans, but today things have changed and a 40 year old is different right?
The only thing that has changed is that instead of spending all our time worrying about how we look and seem to other people until we are 30, now we get to keep going for another bloody decade. All that we have done is increase the number of years that we are obliged to stay YOUNG. Because, let’s be honest, in the youth obsessed culture we now subscribe to, that is all that counts.
And who even comes up with this shit? I’ll tell you who. The same turnip who came up with ‘inside every skinny girl is a fat girl waiting to get out’. This is not true. I have been patiently waiting for the fat girl to come crawling out of Christy Turlington. I have waiting for this to happen since the early 1990’s, since that annoying George Michael video with all the super-models. Not going to happen. Because inside every skinny girl is another skinny girl, and inside her is another skinnier girl and so on. They are like those Russian nesting dolls. There is no fat girl inside a skinny girl and being 40 is not the new 30.
And until I heard this nonsense I thought getting older was normal. Actually I thought it was fabulous. When I was a kid my dad was allowed to smoke what he wanted, drink what he wanted, eat whatever the hell he wanted to, he could stay up late and not bathe if he felt like it, all because he was OLD. So naturally I couldn’t wait. Also, when I was growing up in India, asking a woman her age wasn’t a problem. It wasn’t a rude question; it was just a question like ‘Madam how tall are you?’
But now the foolishness has spread and even in my Motherland asking a woman her age is a rude question. And the reason it’s rude is because the whole problem with being older is that you look older and looking your age is now an insult. The word ‘old’ is now an abuse. It’s an affront. We have managed to take a natural stage of life and make it insulting. Old is the new fat.
I recently got in to a conversation about age with an acquaintance of mine (she was a friend who got downgraded immediately after this interaction) and I said ‘I know I look 40 and I am ok with it’ and she lost it!
‘NONONONONONO you don’t look 40, are you crazy! You are so fit! You don’t look 40, not you’.
I know she was trying to make me feel better but all she managed to do was irritate the crap out of me.
Of course the part that bugs me most is that this is a woman problem, because while our male counterparts dissolve in to a sagging, drooping mass of 40-year-old bitchtits, they are called distinguished and sexy and we are called cougars! Ladies, a word was made up to describe us! Men get to enjoy their 40’s with a beer, a pile of pancakes and no hair, but I get no rest. I am still supposed to have the face, body, and enthusiasm I had 10 years ago. And I can’t keep up! Because being 40 is nothing like being 30.
30 can mix dark rum and vodka shots with wild abandon, vomit it all up and then bounce back to life only to repeat the whole process again the next night. At 40 if I mix rum and vodka shots it is entirely possible that I will die. If I survive, I will not look like I have a hangover; I will look like a hangover, like the flakey, beige balls of a very old, sick basset hound.
Look, we all want to appear to be ‘aging gracefully’ which used to mean that you were graceful about aging, you didn’t bitch, you didn’t moan, and you didn’t believe stupid little sayings, you just got on with your life, but now ‘aging gracefully’ basically means not aging at all. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally, not spiritually. So we have a bunch of 40 years olds who look like 30 year olds with the emotionally intelligence of a 20 year old.
There are many things about aging that suck but there are some wonderful things too. Experience, patience, introspection – are all glorious things that typically come with age, and to deny this is denying our own development. 40 isn’t the new 30, but if we carry on like this 40 will soon be the new stupid.
(Published in Times of India Crest).
By the time I hit ‘marriageable age’, or my late teens, it became clear as day that because my parents, and my grandparents before them, had had ‘love marriages’, I too would have to fend for myself in the marital department of life. Growing up in a rather liberal home I knew that one fine day I would go off and either find or not find a life partner. Arranged marriages were uncommon in my clan and it was apparent that I would not be getting any help from my folks or anyone else on that score.
This was well and good while I was in college. I was grateful that my mum and dad weren’t annoying busybodies planning my future, but were instead happy to let me have boyfriends and find my own way. They were cool parents, who would be down with whoever I loved regardless of religion, nationality or bank account, and so I was unable to relate to some of the horror stories I heard of girls being forced to break-up with their sweethearts only to be ‘married off’ to someone they barely even knew. I actually felt sorry for these girls, they would never understand the joys and excitement of a love affair! Mine were modern parents and I was a modern chic. Yay for me.
By the time I got to my mid-twenties however had I changed my mind. While most of my girlfriends had received at least one offer of marriage via their families, my tally was depressingly a big fat zero (I refuse to count the really creepy Physics tutor who wanted to marry me when I was 17). I even had a friend whose second cousin sent her a proposal, and while she cringed at the idea I secretly envied her. As far as I was concerned the Arrangeds were at an unfair advantage.
To begin with, how wonderful it would be if I could, on the strength of my family’s reputation alone, find a man. I always believed that women in arranged marriages were not running around wasting time in the bargain basement of life, rummaging about for a good deal, instead she was shopping in a boutique where the products on display had been handpicked after an intensive whetting by sundry aunties, uncles and other do-gooders. Unlike me this girl would not have to dress up and parade around nightclubs until the odd hours of the night looking for a man, he would instead be presented to her in the dignified ambience of her home. It was with silently mounting terror that I realized I had mistaken my parent’s inability to pull a proposal for ‘coolness’. If I never found love it would be their fault. Unfair advantage #1.
Another thing an Arranged need not worry about is whether or not she is wasting her time with a commitment phobic moron. No of course not, thanks to the aforementioned aunties and do-gooders her selection set will comprise of men, not boys, who actually want to be wed. The rest of us on the other hand have to take our chances – which by the way are about as good as winning a lottery. Once we identify a guy we reallyreally like, we are then left wondering ‘how serious is he?’. This wondering by the way is bloody exhausting. You are not allowed to just come out and ask because men as we all know are rather timid creatures and get freaked out by all this commitment stuff. So instead you become a paranoid bundle of nerves trying to work this all out in your head and the head of your loving girl friends. Unfair Advantage #2.
And last but not least, one of the biggest challenges that face those of us who must marry for love – meeting the parents. The question of WHEN to introduce your significant other to mummy-ji and papa-ji is a big one. Introduce them too soon and you appear over-eager (my husband met my parents before we started dating), introduce them too late and it looks like you may be a commitment phobic moron (I met my future mother-in-law after I had lived with her son -shrouded in the kind of secrecy the KGB would have envied – for over three years, and I met my future father-in-law two weeks before my wedding.)
For obvious reasons the Arrangeds don’t have to give this type of thing a second thought. They meet the parents pretty much immediately, and if for any reason they haven’t had a chance to get acquainted, they have at the very least been pre-approved – like good credit card customers. In a Love Marriage on the other hand you are a high-risk applicant. Only one person in the family knows anything about you, and no one knows your khandan so you don’t even have good credit history. We have to kiss so much more arse just to be liked by our prospective in-laws. Unfair Advantage #3.
But no matter the differences, there is one striking similarity between a Love and an Arranged match. You see, regardless of how you met your husband, in a night-club, a strip-club or a church, know this – his mother will always think he could have done better.
(This was published in Times of India Crest)
In 1979 when I was 6, my dad, who was a pilot with the Indian Air Force, moved our little family to Iraq where he would be working for the next two years. There were two things I remember most fondly about my time there. The first: Because we were in the boondocks of an Arabic speaking nation the only school available to us was Arabic medium. And so for the entire duration of my stay I did not attend school. To say that these were the two most blissful years of my childhood would be putting it mildly. Some of the other Air Force bases had more industrious mothers who had gotten together and home schooled their off-spring — thankfully, none of these schoolmarms had made their way to where we were, and so I was allowed to run about like a wild animal all day long. I had two friends – Sher Singh and Zora Singh, two brothers around my age, and our entire day was playtime, we would go home for our feed and water and then go back to doing absolutely nothing constructive.
The other thing that made my life worth living was television. We had not owned a TV until then so just having one was fantastic, but the truly brilliant part was that at the time the Iraqis were in to broadcasting all the big American TV shows. I watched as much TV as humanly possible, including several shows that were clearly for adults only. Lucky for me my mother was not one to worry about what was and what wasn’t appropriate TV viewing for children and so I was allowed to watch American people kill, steal and have sexual relations with abandon.
I thought that my life was complete, until a year later, when thanks to some of my aunties, I got to watch my first ever Miss Universe pageant. Beauty competitions are to little girls what porn is to little boys, the proceedings are not in our immediate future but we know that at some point they can be. And so that night my fate was sealed. I knew then, buck-toothed and flat-chested as I was, that one day I would morph, just by sheer will, in to a blonde haired, blue eyed woman called Shawn Weatherly (1980’s Miss USA) thus winning the Miss Universe title, snatching it, as she did, from under the nose of Miss Scotland – who looked genuinely surprised to have lost. I could see myself, parading about in a swimsuit with a sash identifying me as ‘Miss India’. How proud I would make my people.
We returned to India a few years later and eventually I forgot about Miss Universe. My boarding school had no TV, and even if it had I could hardly expect Doordarshan Circa 1985 to feed me the nutritious mix of beauty pageants and B-grade American soap operas I had become accustomed to. Then I went to college in Mumbai and everything changed.
It was the 90’s, Madhu Sapre had lost the Miss Universe title by a hair’s breadth, but in a watershed moment the following year Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai won Miss Universe and Miss World and I went quietly mad with glee. Finally the world had realized how beautiful we Indian women truly were, this was my moment and I was going to carpe diem the shit out of it. Of course I didn’t have a plan or a modeling portfolio, I was too cool and good-looking for that, instead I decided that the best way to get my career rolling was going to be ‘spotted’ by a model co-coordinator as I went about my daily business. There were a surprising number of them floating about Bombay spotting models all day long, I merely had to wait. I was lazy and an idiot.
Of course the reason for all these beauty championships was not because Indian women were all of a sudden prettier than everyone else but because the international cosmetics companies needed a growing market. That I missed this point despite majoring in Economics is depressing times two. But I missed other stuff as well – I missed the fact that ‘Beauty’, like automobiles, is an industry, I missed the fact that beauty pageants are like car shows, the shiniest models get the most attention despite the fact that they represent less than 1% of the total number of cars on the street, and last but not least I missed the fact that if you are born a Fiat you can not become a Ferrari.
It’s possible that if my years in Iraq had been spent in school rather than at home watching TV I might have been smarter but I wasn’t, and sadly girls like me were a dime a dozen back then as they are today. I recently read that more teenage girls would rather be models than Nobel Prize winners. Not surprising. We belong to a worldwide culture that continues to reward women just for being pretty. And we start early, we are more likely to tell a little girl that she is pretty rather than that she is strong or smart. By placing good looks and a great rack above all else we send a message to women – no one wants you for your ability to design a space shuttle, and by ‘no one’ we mean men. This attitude is a difficult one to un-learn because it’s so deep-rooted in our female psyche.
But hope springs eternal and I believe that the next generation of women will be braver. Many of my friends now have daughters and I hope that they will grow up unafraid of being smart. But for a truly liberated society it’s not enough to leave everything up to the women. How about if we focus on our men and teach the next generation of dudes that there is nothing hotter than a thinking chic.
(This was published in Times of India Crest)
I am not a mother. And because I am 40, married and a woman I get to have many conversations with people, mostly parents, who out of the goodness of their hearts feel they must step in and let me know that, despite my advanced age, it is not too late to change the outcome of my miserable, lonely, directionless life.
“Rads you should have one kid! AT LEAST ONE! You will make such a great mom.”
While this is a nice thing to say it is sadly rubbish.
First of all no one knows if anyone will be a ‘great mother’, whatever that even means. Secondly, I can’t get too excited about that compliment; it’s a job that needs no real qualifications, and one that 16 year olds without high school diplomas have been doing all over the world. And last but not least, has anyone EVER told a woman she would make a bad mother? Can you even imagine saying the words, even if they were true? Just try it – try telling a woman that she is a bad mom and watch her tsunami your ass off the planet. The only thing worse is telling her she is a bad, fat mother. People are supposed to tell women we would make good mothers, it’s an unwritten rule. Because if they don’t tell us that we would all stop having kids and there would be no people left.
Motherhood is a rough game. I understand the unbridled joy of watching your child walk, speak and wipe his own bottom for the very first time, but in-between all that is a lot of hard labor that I am personally not inclined to. The truth is I am a shallow, shell of a person who wants a life with as little responsibility as humanly possible and so, while I don’t think I want to be a mother, what I wouldn’t mind being is a father.
Think about it, a dad has it all. For one thing he does not have to get pregnant, he doesn’t have to sacrifice the joys of drugs and alcohol for the requisite amount of time it takes to bake a baby. He can go out and get shit-faced and not worry that some little girl is going to have a hand sticking out of her head because of alcohol poisoning. If men had to quit smoking, drinking and drugging for even just the 9 months it takes to grow a kid – never mind the whole run up to getting pregnant and then the breast feeding time after wards – just the 9 months – you watch, we’d have a lot fewer kids running around.
Then there is maternal guilt that no father is ever going to have to deal with. As a dad no one will ever judge you unless you mess things up big time, and by that I mean you need to really go out of your way to be a prick. There needs to be alcoholism, wife-beating, cheating, or jail for someone to call you a bad dad. For the mothers on the other hand not giving your kid her cough medicine on time makes you unworthy.
Do you think working dads sit around at work worrying about how they can get back home in time to play with the kids, help with their homework, feed them, bathe them and put them to bed so that the child feels loved and won’t turn in to junkie, pole dancing, anorexic? No – of course not! And you know why? Because the moms already have that covered. These women are damned if they do and damned it they don’t. They have advice coming at them from everywhere, their friends, mothers, sisters, mothers-in-law, blogs, websites, magazines, and books. Everyone thinks they know how it’s done and they keep heaping more pain and aggravation on the moms of the world.
And finally my favorite part of being a dad – you can become fat and bald and no one will ever say ‘wow he really let himself go after the baby’. Look around you. Where are the hot dads?
Thanks to my close association with many mothers I have been forced in to several children’s birthday parties and there are always a bunch of hot moms, being all hot and sexy for the kids and the other moms – you know the type – the ones who smugly managed to knock off all the baby weight and wear tight t-shirts, tucked INTO their jeans, “Oh my god, after Suhaila the weight just came off, no problem at all. I am very lucky like that! See!” Loads of hot mommies, but no hot dads. Instead we have a bunch of middle-aged guys in those awful dad-sandals and flappy shorts, swilling beer and not even trying to hold in their gut.
Do you have any idea what I would give for that life?
(This piece was printed in the recent Hindustan Time Brunch section).
I am almost 40 years old, and for most of my life I have been in pain. Pain caused by the gap between what I look like, and what I think I should look like.
At age 10 I get braces. My buckteeth are so extreme they enter a room before I do. To rectify this, I have 4 teeth removed, wires run all around my mouth, and sometimes those wires stick in my gums and cause them to bleed. But it’s all in the name of ‘beauty’, (in my specific case hoping to look like Zeenat Aman) so I soldier on.
By age 14 my teeth are fixed but I now have another problem – breasts. I have none. While this does not cause any physical discomfort, I am in mental anguish. How am I to find a man without these body parts? Because after all isn’t that my goal in life?
Out of the blue, my body cooperates and I get a bra. But I have very little time to enjoy this because at the same moment I also get body hair. Lots of it. I must now wax, bleach, pull, pluck and burn hair in places this journal will not allow me to elaborate on. It is expensive, uncomfortable, and above all else, unfair. My boyfriend at the time doesn’t have to hide any of his ‘flaws’, but I must, especially if I am to hang on to him.
I am now 17 and in college where I discover my body has more bad news in store. I have a tendency to gain weight in my mid-section and thighs, two ‘problem areas’ per all the women’s magazines that I surrounded myself with. These publications are packed with images of women with no body fat, and thanks to these role models, I embark on a short-lived weight loss program that involves throwing up my food after each meal.
A few years later I enter my 20’s, and the job market. It occurs to me that I have my own money, and so I can surgically correct my flawed physique and face. I come up with a list of procedures. Liposuction on the lower abdomen, inner and outer thighs, breast augmentation, implants for my calves, pelvic reconstruction to reduce the size of my hips, and a nose job. I would be perfect.
Luckily I haven’t the guts to get even a second ear hole piercing, so none of this comes to fruition. Instead I find less invasive props to make myself more appealing to men. Because lets not forget – that is all that should count in life.
And so I acquire my first pair of high heels. When I put them on everything about me looks better. I look taller, thinner, and my cheekbones are more pronounced. So it is very distressing to me that actually wearing them is such a physically debilitating venture. My feet can’t take it and so I spend half the evening hopping from one foot to another, trying desperately to keep the pain out of my face. When I walk in heels I know that I look like I have a stick wedged up my backside. What I actually have wedged up my behind is my new Victoria Secret G-string, which instead of making me feel sexy gives me friction burn.
I slam in to my 30’s and spend money on make-up that evens out my skin tone as it clogs my pores. I buy jeans that push my bottom up as it cuts off my blood circulation. And I watch friends spread chemicals on their scalps and inject chemicals in to their faces.
I feel stupid (a feeling not all together unfamiliar) but I admit I do some incredibly ridiculous things to be considered feminine, and so I wonder, how deep rooted is this sense that we are just not good enough the way we are? Because, if we don’t figure that out fast, I will forever be doomed to live in pain.
Move over Chris Helmsworth, Andrew Garfield and Christian Bale, there is a spanking new super hero in town. This time the action star poised to rock the world of men in the age group of 18 to 45 (which, lets face it, is the only demographic anyone really cares about) is my vagina. No, this is not a joke. It is the truth. In fact it’s not just my vagina but also the vaginas of all Indian women everywhere. Think of this as a super hero army.
Thanks to Clean and Dry, a product that promises to unbrown our punanis, and 18 Again, yet another product that swears up and down that it will ‘rejuvenate’ our happy cavities by making them tighter, I now believe that finally, FINALLY I can achieve my fullest potential as a woman. With a white, tight curry-muff I will be invincible!
I think it’s a point of pride really. Growing up in India in the 80’s and 90’s we had very few products designed to make us feel fabulous. Fair and Lovely leaps to mind. A cream that allowed our dusky beauties to lighten their skin tone, because that was what our most beloved demo (those 18 – 45 year old men) would want. Fair and Lovely had a strangle hold on women, encouraging us to liberally apply the cream to our faces, backs (think backless sari blouse) and arms (think sleeveless tops). Bleach made quite a splash as well. Instead of waiting days and days for Fair and Lovely to kick in, we could now make our mustaches blonde and our skin several tones lighter all with one little bottle.
This was all well and good; sure these products helped us improve ourselves but what if my boyfriend looked under my skirt? How was I to help him reconcile my white-woman face with my Indian-woman Lady Macbeth? One look at my dark meat and he would go running in the opposite direction and I would remain single and die alone.
Thank God times have changed! Today our Indian daughters need not fear any such thing. I do not have a daughter but to all the mothers out there you can now rest easy. Thanks to technology your little girl can have a gleaming white vagina.
And speaking of mothers lets move on to product number two, the product that provokes the question ‘Who wouldn’t want to be 18 again?’ Quite honestly I would not? To me it’s like asking ‘Who wouldn’t want to relive all the insecurity, doubt and low self-esteem?’ But I realize that perhaps your 18 was different from mine, you were gorgeous and thin but now you are 40 and have had a baby or two and your Kheema Samosa just ain’t the same. That’s one of the things about age; no matter how beautiful your face was in your youth, your vage is going to end up the same way as everyone else’s. That is until now!
Yes Yummy Mummies, and all women over 40 in general, help is at hand. Thanks to 18 Again you can now make your vagina feel like a virgin, even if what it actually wants to do is go to sleep and not wake up. By simply applying this cream daily you too can have labial walls capable of crushing Sylvester Stallone’s face. What woman wouldn’t want that? Oh I’m sorry I meant what man wouldn’t want that, because lets not forget who we are trying to appeal to with all this whiteness and tightness.
What is it about us Indian woman that we are never ever good enough, that there is always room for improving our faces, our bodies and now our genitals? And it’s not just innocuous creams and shower gels ladies, now you can even have surgery to correct your errant V-zones. Yep – plastic surgery has broken new frontiers and many cosmetic surgeons are offering up a menu of options ranging from the ‘Kim Kardashian’ (Very Hot Girl Next Door) to the ‘Paris Hilton’ (Dirty Party Girl) to the ‘Sunny Leone’ (Porn Star Perfect Girl). Just because the all-powerful Lord above bestowed upon you a less than perfect vagina does not mean you have to live with it. Instead you can have someone literally carve you a new and improved one.
The defense I hear often is ‘hey how is that different from dying my hair or waxing my legs or wearing make-up?’ It’s not. I admit we subscribe to all kinds of artifice. Padded bras, high heels, Spanx, the list is endless. And so I shall not implore women to walk away from any of this. What you rub all over your Mousetrap is your business. But I have one request for the genius entrepreneurs who wrack their brains daily to bring us these goodies, is there any way we can get our hands on a Ball-Firming cream or gel? Anything that will lift a man’s scrotum while eliminating that wrinkled, pruney appearance, thus returning it to its former egg-smooth glory? I make this request on behalf of my dad. You see ever since I sent my mother a years supply of 18 Again for Mother’s Day, he’s been complaining, says he’s feeling a little left out of this game.
Thank you India! Once again a woman gets it up the ass without either her request or consent.
Mary Kom the Indian boxing teams only FEMALE entry to the Olympics and the ONLY MEDAL HOPE ON THE ENTIRE FUCKING BOXING TEAM, has been shafted. Her coach Chris Atkinson has not been permitted to train her in London, as per standard procedure for all other athletes, instead Kom had to travel to Liverpool to train there with him. Even worse, he will not be in her corner during her fight, in fact he wont be allowed in to the Olympic stadium at all, and will monitor her progress via a cellular phone when he is able to speak with her between bouts.
All this because Atkinson was unable to secure a pass to the Olympic Village. Passes are limited in number and were given only to coaches/trainers based on seniority, and clearly not on what is best for the boxer.
OK – for a country that is so up it’s own ass about mothers, this is a travesty. Anyone who knows anything about boxing (just watch ‘Million Dollar Baby’ if you have no idea what I am going on about) will know that separating coach from fighter on fight night is like separating a child from it’s mother when it’s need is greatest.
What are we doing? What message are we trying to send sports people in this country? That their heroism means nothing? And I hate to ask, but is this happening because Mary Kom is a woman? Can we not bear the thought that this broad may actually win a medal and give us all something to be proud off? Must all our role models be skinny, light skinned, half-wits who can sort of sing and dance? Can’t one of them be Mary Kom?
But keeping the sexual politics out of this, here’s what I want to know – would we rather be a nation that stands by some archaic, idiotic bureaucratic nuance or are we a people tough enough to stand by our athletes and support them in their quest for greatness?
Ms. Kom, I hope you kick some ass.
As modern Indians battle the caste system, the religious distinctions, the linguistic barriers and the geographical differences that years ago kept us in our own very separate silos, there remains a divide we cannot seem to cross. This divide is a class system based on a combination of economic and cultural factors; it is the divide between the Master-class and Servant-class. And no matter how hard we may hate our Tamil-Christian or Punjabi-Hindu neighbor, we are likely to stand united with them against our servants.
This peculiar class system, like it’s counterparts the world over, seems to have it’s own set of unwritten rules. For example, a servant has her own set of crockery and cutlery that is never ever mixed in with that of the Master, she may not sit on the master’s furniture, and must stand or squat on the floor instead, she must leave her chappals outside the master’s house rather than being allowed to wear them indoors, and if she happens to work in a high-rise building then she gets to ride in a separate elevator. I often wonder, are we doing all this because we think they are dirty, or because we want to keep them in their place, or both?
Servants are treated like second-class citizens despite the fact that they are the very people who make everyone else’s lives much easier. They cook our food, clean our homes, look after our babies. I know someone who was horrified at the sight of an ayah at the Delhi Gymkhana, all because the ayah had her feet in the swimming pool! How disgusting, because the pool is usually so clean with all the little kids pissing in to it. Seriously – is cleanliness a characteristic of the master-class alone?
Of course there are good, kind masters, those that treat their servants with the respect and dignity they deserve, but lets be honest, there are those who don’t think twice about screaming at the help because a fried egg didn’t turn out the way they wanted it. And because the scolding is often conducted in front of the master’s children, this deplorable, low-budget behavior is passed down from one generation of masters to the next, and is accepted by the servant, not because it is right, but simply because he needs his paycheck.
But I didn’t realize how deep-rooted this sickness was until my last trip to India and my husband and I were taking a tour of a new luxury high-rise building. As the real estate agent walked us through the model apartment, that had been set up for buyers to look at, he waxed on about the Italian marble, the Belgian granite, and the high quality emulsion paint. Everything was top of the line, he let us know, his voice rising to a high-pitched squeak as he excitedly ushered us in to the bathrooms to examine the fittings.
At the end of the tour, he led us to a small room off the kitchen that would be the servant’s quarter, so that we, the masters, could have someone on call 24/7. As we looked around he assured us know that no money had been wasted in the construction of our future servants dwelling. They had taken the trouble to use the cheapest possible, no-name brand distemper on the walls, the floors were cement, and the toilet was Indian-style – as opposed to the western-style (or English-style!) commodes on which the master would take his or her daily shit. The fact that an Indian-style potty is actually better for you is beside the point – the point was that a servant deserved not just less, but far less than the master of the house and this builder was going to make sure of that. It wasn’t enough that the room had to be cheap, it had to look cheap, and it did.
Horrifyingly enough, this is the kind of thing that went on in America during segregation and in South Africa during apartheid, and lets not forget, in INDIA when the British ruled us and we were all servant-class! I know India is developing and growing and is supposedly ‘incredible’ (with an exclamation point), but as long as we have separate lifts for the men and women whose daily job is to make sure we are comfortable, we can’t be that far ahead.