If there was a movie made about my stay here it would be called, The Girl Who Flipped of Mumbai. Did I already say this? Doesn’t matter, I’ll say it again.
I learned this from my Aunt Virginia…
I’ve been advised that I should ignore men who make passes at me and offend me. Well, that’s too passive for a modern woman like myself and mostly, ignore is not in my nature. I heard this word many times from my mother in relation to my brother and I was never very good at it. Besides, why should I ignore? Shouldn’t he stop provoking? Back to Bombay though, I think we both (offensive men and myself) get a lot more satisfaction out of the middle finger in the long run.
Don’t get me wrong; I really love India. I will say a million times over that it is a beautiful, culturally rich country and I am glad to be welcomed here. But one thing that I miss about being home is feeling like I have rights as a woman. Yeah, I know it. I will admit that the U.S. is far from perfect in terms of gender equality. Men still get paid more and get offered jobs over women and men still far outnumber women in politics…the list of complaints could continue for miles. We have our issues. But I also feel like I have a voice in the U.S. too, and that counts for something.
Here I just have my middle finger, and thank God I was born with middle fingers.
Boys, have I scared you away yet? Do you think I am an angry woman about to go on an angry woman rant?
Well, your senses are right. But don’t be intimidated by that, please! Read along!
First things first:
You know that Garden that Salma and I used to take walks in where she would make me photograph ugly birds and herself under those palm trees? Yeah, you all know it. Well, get a load of this newspaper article:
IN ORDER TO PREVENT RAPES THEY ARE ONLY ALLOWING MEN AND WOMEN ESCORTED BY FAMILY TO ENTER THE GARDEN!? WHAT KIND OF IDIOT THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS A LOGICAL SOLUTION TO PREVENTING RAPES!? Oh, hey guys, let’s “prevent rape” by taking freedom away from women and giving more power and control to men. That’ll stop ‘em.
God help us all, here in Mazgaon.
When I showed this article to people here the general response was, “yeah, that kind of stuff just happens here sometimes.”
To which I responded, “Yeah, and if that happened at home you would see a mob of angry women and some men, too, trampling over that security guard at the gate.”
It’s ridiculous. Someone else, please tell me I am not crazy and this is ridiculous. Imagine being turned away from your morning power walk at Oak Grove Park (Hey, Gladstone!) and then cry a little bit about this atrocity.
Shall we continue…?
…You will be relieved that I am less angry about this one and more amused in a sick kind of way.
I discovered this past week that people actually put matrimonial ads in the newspaper here according to age, caste, religion, skin color, looks, horoscopes, and the lot. And you know what else?
I knew that Doug Fleming would love this.
There’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning in the Fleming household than to sip coffee, pet cats, and listen to Doug make fun of the marriage announcements in the KC Star, or so I thought.
Then I found these and thought this might top that.
Have a look:
So what did we take away from this? Everybody has a six foot tall, fair skinned (much like our obsession with tanning, they have an obsession with chemical skin lightening), well-educated, athletic and handsome son who absolutely requires a fairer-skinned, beautiful, good-natured, cultured, slim girl.
Oh, and horoscopes must match, duh.
Which make me wonder, how do all of the chubby, short, dark-skinned people seem to have spouses here, too?
And why is a life-long commitment being negotiated over the newspaper based on clearly shallow criteria?
We will never know…
And finally, moving onto my last and final rant, THE HARE KRISHNA GIRLS PROGRAM.
You’ll be pleased to know that the ISKON temple has a Saturday night program for unmarried girls only. Shweta and I go because if you listen through the bull shit talks you get to sing, dance, and have a free meal. You will be pleased to know also that I have memorized the Hare Krishna song and dance. Yeah, that’s right–I sing, I dance, I Hare Krishna with the best of them. Watch out, world!
But THIS is part of the problem with the progress of women’s rights in India. In some ways religion (though it shouldn’t be and doesn’t have to be) is brainwashing people, girls even, into thinking that women are inferior to men.
You want to know what this loony lady (with some sort of authority) said to a room full of 100+ young girls?
She said the wife has four roles:
1. Friend to husband (sure, whatever)
2. Mother (because if you choose not to have babies, or are biologically incapable, you fail as a wife)
3. Care giver to husband (wait, was the mother part about the children, or about the husband?)
4. TAKING CARE OF THE SENSUAL NEEDS OF THE HUSBAND BY BEING DRESSED IN APPEALING WAYS WHEN HE COMES HOME BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T HE WILL LOSE INTEREST AND HAS THE RIGHT TO CHEAT ON YOU. I am not exaggerating. I know, I can do that sometimes. But really, she said this.
THEN… YES, THEN,
She says that there are a lot of rape cases, and do you know why? BECAUSE WOMEN ARE DRESSED SKANTILY AND TEMPTING MEN AND IT’S OUR FAULT. Again, this is real life, she said this.
Then she said, do you all agree?
And as the whole crowd is nodding/head bobbling yes, and I say noooooo, with an avid head shake and Shweta shouts, NO! I DON’T AGREE! and then continued with a quieter, this is pathetic and sad, just sad.
This attracted a lot of gasps and head turns and the woman speaking just says, “well, in any case…” and continued to say that Indian men are not that bad because they have a lot less rapes statistically than England.
I am just clenching my fists and jaws and my head is exploding and I am thinking,
Yeah, you ding dong, because NOBODY (okay, very few people) reports rapes here. This could be a whole new blog post, but rest assured, people, rape and molestation DO happen in India, just as they DO happen in every country. I would venture to say that women here dress a whole hell of a lot more modestly than they do in the west and even if they were nude, this NEVER justifies rape.
I mean, you guys, I am wearing JEANS IN 104 DEGREE WEATHER because it’s not socially acceptable for women to show their damn legs! Jeans in 104 degrees should be a sin, it’s so cruel!
In fact, rape is so not the fault of women. These ladies in the village, who are fully covered and even wear scarves around their heads (they are super traditional) are getting raped when they go out in the fields to urinate because men know that they can get away with it. Why? Because according to traditional values, a raped woman is not a marriageable woman, therefore she will not report the rape because she will be reduced to nothing by society.
I could have slapped that women who was speaking.
So let me just wrap this up by saying, women, we have a long way to go. Let’s chime our voices and speak our minds, one Hare Krishna temple at a time.
I think I have a PhD dissertation in the making. Maybe I should go back to grad school after all…
I am cutting myself off…FOR NOW. You’re so welcome.