Muslim men and the Afridi gene.

After having obsessed about my life in quite a few posts, I will veer my attention to my fellow male counterparts in religion – Muslim men. Although I know very few of them – the few Muslim friends, male cousins and brothers, I have grown up to notice a peculiarity in them. They are rather good looking. Especially those from Kashmir, Turkey, Lahore or Karachi. Though Saudi isn’t far behind. Remember the guy who was kicked out for being good-looking? (http://chicwithwords.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/men-kicked-out-of-saudi-arabia-for-being-ridiculously-good-looking/)

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And further more, age doesn’t really do much to them like it does to us poor women, who are hit by a zit, pimple or wrinkle when least expected.  What is surprising is that they don’t really take any efforts to maintain their looks. Some focus on exercise, and some on what they eat, but the majority take life as it comes and still look rather healthy and glowing. It kind of scares a control freak like myself.

These are the next gen young Muslim men, so what they perhaps do right is – know what suits them. From haircut, to clothes, to presence or absence of beard, they are very careful about what shows on them. Many or most of these men pray, and very few have an addictions. Some may smoke but that’s about it. I think both these things help them have a nur on their faces. (nur – nice, divine glow).

Many of these men are studying or earning, and making their families and countries happy with what they do. They have hobbies that engage and keep them happy. And being men, Muslim men, south-east Asian men, derive a great satisfaction from having balanced their needs and others’, this makes them happy, and that shows in their being.

I have seen in these men the ability that I have not seen among many of my female cousins – the ability to forget, forgive with a hug and move on. When one does not carry emotional baggage, one feels happier and lighter, and it shows.

Please note – this was not a sexist post. It’s only that I have seen these qualities in my male Muslim friends and cousins more than in females, and it is specific only to the people I know. Women have many great qualities and I do address them in my other posts. But on the occasion of eid, and of seeing these men in their pathani suits, and still look as dashing as in western clothes, I thought I should pin down my observations.

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India : Forever the plundered.

The case of the moving bus gang-rape victim is all over the papers, I need not repeat it. But is this case only about a girl who got raped? Or its about a societal attitude that has cropped up in the most extreme forms?

Following the news, my parents (like many of my friends’ parents), have been stringent with where I go and what time I get back, among other restrictions. They are obviously trying to keep me safe, but in doing so, they are reinforcing the very notion that is wrong: Women are vulnerable, and need to be protected, that the outside world is not their place, and that if they go there, they will always carry a risk.

But its not only my parents that are wrong, many other agents in the society are. Death penalty, castration demands, fast-track courts, outrage – all are required. But they aren’t the solution to the problem. They are like the bucket you keep under a water leakage till you can get a plumber to fix it.

But this is what we do – we never get the plumber, and when the bucket overflows, we don’t replace or empty it either. Our outrage, like that of the past, will die within a couple of months, like it did with the Kenan and Reuben case, among many others. Besides, our outrage is shade racist. We don’t care much for women raped in Kashmir, for example. This woman, was raped twice. After the gangrape, she was raped in police custody because her brother joined militants. http://www.kashmirdispatch.com/sameer-bhat/211210446-shabnam-the-woman-who-was-raped-twice.htm . For the extended article, see – http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2012/Dec/23/kashmir-joins-delhi-gang-rape-protests-albeit-with-a-suffix-37.asp . Here, we are implying 2 things – that even the women of those regions who contribute to the economy of the nation are not safe, and backward in their views towards women, as backwards as remote areas, and second, that only people in such privileged areas are important, that only these’ peoples rights will be fought for, and that only the voice of the metros matters.

Besides the way we outrage, even the way we grow up is wrong. This two articles in The Hindu say what I want to say, rather well – http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/rape-and-the-crisis-of-indian-masculinity/article4214267.ece , http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/time-to-be-ashamed/article4214334.ece .

The basic idea of these two articles, is that most rapes are those where young males encroach upon the modesty and freedom of women who are just trying to work and carry on their daily life. But, somewhere, there is resentment. They have grown up having more importance than their wives and sisters at home, and they can’t digest it when these same weak women, take up jobs that should be theirs, and earn prestige they aren’t entitled to.

It is not only the young unemployed youth who have this mindset. In minor rape cases, constables often escort young boys and girls to hospital wards for medical examination, loudly claiming that ‘iska rape hua hai. Check karo’, apparently having no idea how it will traumatize the child.

It takes no genius to realize that he needs to be sensitive. But, he is just one of the faces among many. The many who feel that anyone who is weak can be exploited, and blamed. As if somewhere, he felt that it was the child’s fault that he was raped. (Or that he reported the crime? God knows)

We already know of cases where men working in the lower rungs of law enforcement themselves are wife-beaters, tribal officers themselves rape young tribal girls. In these, and many other cases, there is double or more than double victimization.

And this is not just the remote places that I’m talking of. Everyday, in each home in the city even, subtle sexism still exists. Maybe they do it because they feel they are protecting their daughters, but in truth they are not. They are getting them accustomed to the ways of society, but of such a rotten society, that it needs to be changed. Girls shouldn’t be asked to stop going out, but be equipped to be safe wherever they go out. And this is only  a temporary solution – in long term – such measures should not be required – the society should be THAT SAFE.

People will tell me that what I say here is very idealistic, and that fast-track courts are a much more practical idea. Yes, they are a brilliant idea, to handle the level of problems that we have reached. But eventually, you will need to go to the root of the issue and treat it. And that lies in changing how the men and the women of the nation think.

India has been forever a plundered land. Be it by outsiders, or by those within. That needs to change. Not because women work, or contribute to GDP, or give birth to children, or are your wives or sisters, but because they are human and there is no other justification required.

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(Photo contributed by @AdamFredie on Twitter)

A Kashmir Hangover.

When I left for my college trip to Jammu and Kashmir, I had within me. a pleasant anxiety of the days to come. Kashmir is beautiful, this I knew from others who had visited the place. But, whether the beauty would absorb and overwhelm me and make a cumulative difference to my thought, was the question.

I flatter myself as being someone of good organizational habits and a little more than slight literary bent of mind. And so, on my trip, I jotted down observations and made a couple of sketches. Their true worth, I realized only after getting back. I am going to treasure these diary entries.

I found Gulmarg and Pahalgaam most beautiful, what with the lovely snowfall, endless meadows and stunning valleys. The pure and clean river streams with colourful smooth stones underneath, with the slow repetitive sound of running water, was incredibly soothing. Dal lake, our nightly stay in the houseboat, and the shikara ride which showed to us the vast expanse of the lake was calming and peaceful.

I believe we went there at the right time, with autumn in progress. The gently falling leaves as they traced their path along the helpful breeze, could literally slow down time for me. I could gaze at the view for hours.

We were, however, a group of almost 60 people, and with such a large group, do come some annoyances. Disliked personality traits, delays, and frustrating change of plans are a few of them.

Because of the terrain of the area, most of the travel happened by bus and jeep, and most of the times, for hours at a stretch. People did fall sick out of dizziness or motion sickness, but nothing lastingly harmful or damaging happened. An added discomfort to the women was the absence of proper bathroom facilities on the way, but since that is the scenario all over India, Kashmir can’t be expected to be an exception.

All the above apart, the sight seeing was definitely worth the trouble we had to go through and the mismanagement we had to face.

As a psychology student, I incurred some interesting insights and observations about the locals. I felt bad that they deceive tourists in money matters, charging them double or more, but, it might be their only source of income, especially for those of low socio-economic status.

I also observed that the locals got angry very quickly, and did not often make an attempt to control or hide it. I would think its biological, but a friend informed me, that the locals are provided basic necessities by the government, and therefore, there is no motivation to inculcate hospitality towards tourists. This could be the reason why I did not see any malnourished poor people, which are a regular sighting in Mumbai.

Though, the locals are not to be entirely blamed for their display of stronger emotions. By experience, I do admit that tourists often act in irritating and offensive ways, as cultural transcendence doesn’t come easily to all.

I learnt from my trip that having something that drives you, is as important as taking time off and joyfully exploring the world around. That, stability is a requisite, just like change is. Only then, can life be truly and satisfactorily enjoyed.

In these ten days, I have seen bronze valleys full of characteristic Chinar trees, the prettiest of faces that are so without any conscious effort at beauty, tasted kahwa, tuj and other amazingly tasty local food, and above all, carry within me, the warmth and glow of having seem one of the most beautiful places on the planet.


Busy-ness is bliss?

This post happens about 20 days later after the last one. I’m actually surprised the gap isn’t wider, for Third Year or Majors year has completely taken over my time!

I had taken up a freelance writing job, but had to leave it because I could not manage it all. My academics include anew psychological experiment every two weeks (and believe me, the two weeks are not enough to prepare!), group calculations of these findings, making notes, studying, conducting research, submitting project proposals (that will eventually culminate into projects, hopefully!), attending lectures, and lastly, travelling to and fro to college! What? It takes up quite some time, the travelling. Besides, it’s tiring.

So, my 10k per month job went down the drain. But, not only that, I have to make other sacrifices too! I hardly paint these days and the ink in my calligraphy pens has dried due to lack of use. The blog receives less attention. In fact, so does social networking in general. Except Twitter, because it is convenient to access on the move.

And being social with anyone except those in college has taken a back seat. I really hope my friends outside college will understand.

But then, would I be comfortable not working so hard in an important academic year? I have chosen to study something I love and dedication is probably not questioned on those grounds. But I have to deal with a lot of people these days, whose general level of pea-brain-ness appals and disappoints me. Besides that is the fact that, perhaps I need better time management.

Also, not all is lost. For example, even though slowly, I did complete the painting for my room, “The Royal Escape“. I am also able to try some new fonts each weekend.

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Another good thing that’s happening these days is that I’m catching up on my reading. In trains or during meals, it’s easier to read a book as compared to my other hobbies. Since I haven’t gotten time to update my playlist, music is a second priority now (I still have 818 unassorted tracks on the phone though 😀 )

And lastly, I do get new insight regarding psychology each day. I will have a career in this field someday, and this is definitely a start. Besides, this hectic year will be over before I know it. And there is also the College trip to Kashmir. Maybe I will enjoy it all the more because of the being busy for so long? Who knows, maybe busy-ness is bliss!?

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