Whereas it’s common for men to migrate for work and it is a given that their wives will follow them as expressed by the Court there are a few women professionals who defy such norms to follow their careers.
Days after the wedding, as her husband left for London, and her in-laws for their home in Bangalore, Vidhu – the bride followed neither. Instead, she moved to her parents’ house in Gurgaon where an exciting job as a Human Resource Specialist with a large private company awaited her. Vidhu, 25, shares, “Just because I continue to live away from my husband ever since we married nearly eight months back, I was asked by a male colleague if my marriage was okay. It seems inconceivable to people that as a wife I chose not to follow the man!”
In the Indian work-marriage-family settings, Vidhu – the highly-skilled, well-paid woman who migrates for her own career – is an anomaly. Women like her are so few that it makes writing about them both interesting and difficult!
Data from the Census and National Sample Survey (NSS) acknowledges that migration by women – national and international – has risen. As per the 64th NSS report, the most prominent cause for female migration is marriage: For 91 per cent of rural migrants and 61 per cent of the urban migrants. A caveat: may be all married women’s migration is being classified as marriage-related? A study by the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, covering 5,000 individual migrants and 55,000 (OR 5,500?) households across 20 states, also ascertains that marriage-related female migration has increased.
Most female migrants are generally poor solo workers in search of better employment or those who follow their migrant husbands or relatives. Ritoo (name changed), 34, is a textbook case. As a young bride, she shifted to Delhi from a village in Uttarakhand. An alcoholic husband, abusive marriage, four children and decades of factory work later, Ritoo ventured into sex-work in Delhi’s ‘hotspots’. With the help of an ‘agent’, she spent the last four summers working in the brothels of Malaysia and Singapore. During a telephonic chat from Malaysia, she admits, “Working away from Delhi is good. Even if I land in trouble, my family won’t come to know about my work. So I don’t mind being here for a few months every year. I earn good money for my four children, including three daughters. But I don’t come here just for money. I finally have someone here who truly loves me!”
As a single parent and only breadwinner, Ritoo has earned her family’s regard for saving them from financial destitution and being a good mother. Yet, in the case of married, well-heeled women like Vidhu, the need to earn and stay away may be seen as superfluous and a defiance of social norms by some. The subtext that underpins the question directed at Vidhu by her colleagues was: If it is not for money, why work, and live away?
Middle/upper-middle class women professionals who live apart from their husbands (and kids, if any) push the boundaries of an old, explosive debate and its usual narratives on gender roles, agency and autonomy. Madiha Ali (name changed), 50, is a ‘Global Meeting Planner’, who facilitates large conferences and seminars for pharmaceutical companies. Although not a migrant per se, Madiha has travelled for nearly two-three weeks every month for the last 20 odd years of her work-life. In 2011 alone, she travelled to several destinations, including Morocco, Paris, Barcelona, Denmark and Turkey. “My need to work is beyond money; it is about my independence and to realise my potential to the fullest. Some of my friends in India used to say that the wife’s place is in the house, not outside. I think men and women are equal and both can be providers. When I travel, my current husband cooks and goes grocery shopping. When he is busy, I do it. If roles are flexible, women’s lives can be enriched,” reveals Ali, whose her ex-husband did not approve of her hectic travel.
Despite all the excitement about girls’ education and women’s independence, the question whether their professional aspirations can coexist with marriage has been hypothetical. Often the marital household runs on the traditional division of functions, untouched by calls for elasticity of roles and autonomy. It has been a year since feminist Aradhna (name changed), 45, has been living and working in Patna, Bihar’s state capital, while her marital family is back home in Ranchi, Jharkhand. In her experience and words, “From expecting me to be a housewife to respecting my work, my husband’s attitude has changed. Yet, when I go home on a holiday, the curtains will be kept aside for me to wash, among other ‘womanly’ chores. It is not easy.” Vidhu recalls that some MBA batchmates of hers who married rich businessmen cannot work because a ‘working woman’ does not fit into these families’ socio-cultural schema.
As someone who helps highly-skilled women professionals with employment and training, Sairee Chahal, co-founder, Fleximoms, is disappointed at young women’s reluctance towards careers, “They are keen to comply with traditional notions of womanhood. Some reject great job opportunities because it may upset their husbands!” Based on her research on women professionals of the Indian IT industry, Dr Jyothsna Belliappa (author of a forthcoming book titled Gender, Class and Reflexive Modernity in India) found that, “At a certain position, travel becomes important especially if you lead a multi-site team. So, women choose roles in accordance with the support structures at home, which they have to create for themselves.” The pressure to conform to conventional roles of a married woman/mother – care-giving and household activities – arises not just from esoteric cultural codes but official policies of the State. Following the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, in 2008, the Government initiated the (paid) Child Care Leave (CCL) directed only at mothers. It grants leave “for a maximum of two years for taking care of up to two children whether for rearing or to look after any of their needs like examination and sickness “. Supriya (name changed), 43, has been availing the leave frequently ever since she was transferred to Delhi from Chennai. She is thankful for the leave, “In my absence, my eight-year-old son lives with his grandparents. My husband visits him every evening to teach him. Everybody had to adjust. This is not ideal.”
While such leave is certainly beneficial, it does not subvert the norm of the woman as the exclusive care-giver but instead perpetuates it unquestioningly. Anjali Sinha of Stree Mukti Sangathan has valid concerns: “Can fathers not look after their kids? Why are they exempt from this leave? And why the silence on care-giving for the elderly? Instead of further burdening working women, the government should create better social support systems such as crèches and ‘anganwadis’.” Meanwhile, many state governments have introduced the CCL for women. Are we institutionalising the mollycoddle-ment of men? Hope the crèches are for the kids, not their fathers.
Really, what is the big fuss about seeing Mummy as an autonomous being, just as Papa is? There are scores of fairness creams and detergents for a woman to choose from, but for her own life, there’s just the same old, prescriptive homemaker cut-out, airbrushed from time-to-time. For all her other aspirations, a woman gets them at her own risk of self-doubt, guilt, stress and the embarrassment of non-conformity. (Women’s Feature Service)
Youth to the fore : Social messages through social media
Is it okay for your boyfriend to know your email password and check your mails or for your girlfriend to track your SMSes and screen your friends?
Taking a different perspective on gender violence in a youngster’s everyday life, Must Bol - a by the youth, for the youth campaign - is creating ripples in Delhi’s youth circuit. Started in December 2010, and having entered the virtual world the very next month, the campaign has hit an instant cord with the youngsters because of the relevance of the issues and the non-preachy manner in which messages are being put across.
Take for instance the not-much-talked-about topic of violence in intimate relationships. The 30-member core team of the campaign - most of whom go to college or are recent pass-outs - decided to throw open the topic for discussion on social media.
“There were simple questions asked: Do you think it's Ok that your boyfriend keeps your cellphone and checks your messages? Is it Ok that your girlfriend logs in to your Facebook account and rejects friend requests from other girls? The responses we got was overwhelming,” Manak Matiyani of the Youth Collective, the initiator of the Must Bol campaign, said.
“The idea behind having a discussion was to give youngsters space to voice their opinion and connect to a bigger reality that they may be victimised to violence - and it could be of any kind. Based on everyone's response, there were a few short films made which were showcased in colleges and other public spaces,” he said.
One of the films is about a phone conversation between a boy and his girlfriend, and it showed how easily his concern turned into a controlling mode.
“The main idea of our Must Bol (literallly meaning must speak out) campaign is to recognise violence in our lives, talk about it and then address it,” Matiyani said.
He said they had organised at least 15 workshops across the city on different themes and made over 30 short films.
The campaign has also explored the theme of stereotyping men and women, which is often one of the underlying causes of harassment of women when seen overstepping the so-called set boundaries.
Kitchen and Men is a short film on the theme, in which a young, college-going boy is shown making tea for his grandmother. He then questions the whole idea of kitchen being the women's bastion, hitting home the message that barriers exist only in our minds.
Aishwarika Ojha, a student of Indraprastha University and a core member of the campaign, said, “Our interpretation of culture has destroyed gender equality. It’s time we clear our heads of perceptions and unlearn what we have learned for generations.”
Another theme - of encouraging men to act against violence on women - saw the Must Bol team chalk out some tips to be real men.
So, Mantip#141 was: ‘You might be really in love with someone, but remember they still have the right not to love you’.
Or Mantip#303: ‘It is always wrong to hit your partner. There is never any excuse to hit your wife or your girlfriend’.
‘Reclaiming the Night’ was another campaign to make the city safer for women, especially in the dark hours. On Holi, their campaign against violence urged men to take action on the theme ‘This Holi, Let’s be Consensual Before Being Sensual’. The campaign has its presence in Facebook (its page is Let's Talk), YouTube and Twitter. (IANS)
Games : Persona 4 Arena
The lineup of stylish anime-style characters all bouncing around the screen at mach 5, stringing together insane combo chains. Thing as, as much as was hooked on ASW's flagship title. As beautiful as the game was, it seemed to have scaled back the level of craziness which Guilty Gear had been known for, with the gameplay more suited for a hardcore fighting crowd than a enthusiastic casual player.
Persona 4 Arena, a new 2D fighter from Arc System Works and Atlus, with the kind of fast-paced frantic combat that first got me hooked on Guilty Gear. After a lengthy playthrough it seems obvious that this is hands-down the fighting game of the year, and a title that will be sure to please both JRPG and fight game fans alike.
If you were expecting some slapdash licensed title, know that Arc System Works clearly did not draw inspiration from the Marvel Nemesis playbook, as this game is every bit as polished as one of ASW's own titles. All of the Persona characters have been lovingly rendered in gorgeous 2D, exploding across the impressive 3D backgrounds with a variety of mind-blowing special moves. This is one of the best looking 2D fighters , and ASW's commitment to traditional sprite graphics is definitely commendable.
Though the game can certainly seem overwhelming, one of the coolest aspects of Persona 4 Arena is how friendly it is to fighting game newbies. Each character has an auto-combo, meaning that simply spamming the attack button will result in a rather impressive full-on assault, one which will even be automatically followed up by a special attack if one has enough SP meter. This, combined with the fairly straightforward move lists and comprehensive tutorial mode, means even absolute beginners can smash buttons and have a darn good time. This willingness to help out the newbies is definitely awesome, especially since the Persona crowd won't necessarily have a fighting game background, making this game a potential gateway drug.
This is of course not to accuse the game of lacking complexity, as there's plenty of advanced tactics waiting to be abused by seasoned fighting veterans. In addition to your standard suite of regular attacks and special moves, there's some very slick additions drawn straight from the game's universe. Each character has access to their Persona, weird nightmare creatures which can be summoned for light and heavy attacks, as well as even more powerful special moves. However, usage of one's Persona leaves it open to attack, and Personas will even be temporarily disabled if they take enough damage. The game also implements many of the status ailments from the RPG series, with poisoned characters taking slight damage over time, or confused characters actually reverses the controller inputs! There's plenty of different features to learn how to master: short hops, air dashing, and even instant kills, though my favorite would have to be the all-out attack, which lets you pummel your opponent within a cartoonish ball of dust and sound effects, before launching them into the air for further combo potential.
As wacky as Persona 4 Arena can seem, perhaps the strangest element of the game is its bafflingly long story mode, offering a uniquely mundane plotline for every character. These stories are mostly conveyed through simple walls of text, occasionally broken up by the rare still picture or one of the game's sparse animated cutscenes. Unfortunately the storyline seems little more than your typical anime fluff, characters harping on and on about the importance of friendship. The voice acted dialogue is top-notch, though used to poor effect, characters often speaking just a single line before the game returning to filling the screen a stack of paragraphs stolen from bad young adult fiction. That being said, the story mode is entirely optional, and die-hard Persona 4 fans will likely be more appreciative of watching their favorite characters discover the mystery behind the P-1 Grand Prix. For those who aren't willing to endure thirty minutes of plot between two minute fights, the arcade mode offers a thankfully truncated version of the game's events, letting you smash through the competition while still getting to experience some of Persona 4 Arena's fantastic voice acting.
However the most notable achievement of the game is its stupendous online matchmaking code, which allowed me to take on challengers in Japan with little noticeable lag. Hopping into a queue was perhaps the most painful aspect, as many seemingly empty rooms would declare themselves filled when trying to join the fight. However, it seems likely that this will not be a problem as more of us damn Yankees snap up a copy of the best 2D fighter in years.
In short, whether you're a diehard fan of 2D fighters or just a fighting game newbie who likes Persona, you really owe it to yourself to pick up this fantastic game.
Game Rating: 9.5
Book: The Great Night, Author: Chris Adrian, Publisher: Picador USA, Pages: 384, Reviewed by: Vivek Tejuja
It isn’t easy to take a Shakespearean play and retell, even if it is being done loosely. Chris Adrian manages that and more with his book, The Great Night. I read the book in almost one sitting. It wasn’t that I was enthralled. It was just that the story was way too beautifully told for me to ignore it. I could also not read anything else while reading this one. I had to complete it.
Now to the plot: Three brokenhearted people lose their way in San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park. They are lost on a night known to the Faerie kingdom as, The Great Night. This is where the action unfolds. This retelling isn’t like the Shakespearean comedy. In fact, it is a tragedy. Chris Adrian has reshaped, A Midsummer Night’s Dream into a mammoth, messy, erotic, and a feast of faeries and monsters. So these three people are lost in the park. There is a group of homeless people as well, who are rehearsing for a musical version of Soylent Green. While this counts for the mortals in the park, we then have the Faerie Queen, Titania, who is in throes of deep sorrow at the loss of her son to leukemia. She is inconsolable and has a spat with the King Oberon, leading to his departure from the park.
Titania wants him back and in a rage of anger, she lifts the controlling enchantment off of Puck, also known as the Beast, freeing him to wreck havoc in the park. The stipulation is clear: Nothing mundane or fantastical, gets in or out of the park when the park walls are up as created by Oberon. The three mortals are at the center of the tale: Molly, who has been recovering from the suicide of her boyfriend, Will, in love with a strange woman who dumped him a year ago, and Henry, whose compulsive habits drove his boyfriend away.
The stories are in plenty in this book. The sub-plots fascinated me even more so. Titania and Oberon are sweeping figures in the book. The grief that they go through in the book is simply stunningly written. There is a lot of chaos in this book just as it was in the play. The writing is clear in parts and not so in some other. For instance, the end was abrupt and anti-climatic. It leaves the reader hanging with no solution at all. But that is only a fragment of the book. The writing otherwise is something that is magnificent and grand.
I am happy that I read this book. There are so many interpretations of Shakespearean themes and characters, that it is always great to read another one. Some sections of, The Great Night are quite strong and worth reading. There is so much beauty and tragedy in the book that at times I was left speechless. A great read for me.
Beauty Tips : Tips for treating dry hair
1. Make sure your weekly shampoo contains extra proteins and humectants to repair damaged hair. Also, use a leave-on conditioner every day before drying and styling damaged hair.
2. Protein treatments help repair the hair by filling in the damaged cuticle. But not all protein treatments are alike — some are mild and others intense, so choose carefully depending on how damaged your hair is.
3. Use a heat-activated conditioner once a week. Apply generously to your hair and cover your head with a plastic cap. Sit under a hair dryer for 20 minutes or more, since the heat locks in the deep conditioner so that it penetrates the hair.
4. Don’t wash your hair more than once a week. Wash with conditioner instead — just pretend it’s shampoo and lather generously. The conditioner will cleanse your hair and scalp without drying or damaging your hair. Rinse and gently comb for a softer, silkier look.
5. Use oil and vinegar. First, rub olive oil into your hair and cover with a soft cloth. Let sit overnight, then rinse with white vinegar as your conditioner before you shampoo. You’ll reduce dandruff and add luster and shine to dry hair. Gloss your hair with a few drops of mineral oil.
6. Separate eggs and mix the whites with water and a bit of honey. Moisten hair with warm water and apply the mixture. Leave on hair for 10 minutes before rinsing. Spread mayonnaise on your hair overnight and cover it in a plastic cap. Rinse in the morning.