Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Venting Post

This is a venting post about people and their stupid and/or irresponsible behavior. About some people that I know and some that I'd like to know so I can shake the daylights out of them!

There are times when people completely befuddle me. I was reading an interview of Amrita Puri this morning. For those who don't know who she is, she plays the character of Shefali in Aisha. She also happens to be the daughter of Aditya Puri, the Managing Director of HDFC Bank, one of the largest private banks in India. She's grown up in Mumbai, I believe, and worked as a freelance journalist & copywriter at an advertizing agency in India before joining films.

There are two things about her interview that bugged me. First, she very proudly declared that she couldn't speak Hindi properly before she started working in the movie. This from a girl who belongs to a North Indian family and has grown up in Mumbai.

This is something that, as an Indian, I have a major issue with. I just don't understand how someone whose mother tongue is Hindi cannot speak the language properly. I hear it all the time from people who've grown up in North India, or any other part of India where Hindi is the most widely spoken language and the language spoken the most at homes.

It's such a shame! You'll never hear a European deride his/her national language. They take pride in speaking it. Why then do we look down on our national language? I can understand if you choose to speak in English but to not be able to speak your mother tongue is a matter of great shame. It makes you a sad wannabe and nothing more.

What's your perspective on this?

The other thing about her interview that bothered me was how she went to great lengths to emphasize that unlike her character in Aisha, she's not a behenji, i.e. the "salwar kameez wearing types".

Now, to start with, I don't like the word 'behenji'. It's a word used to slot women, almost always in a derogatory manner, going solely by the type of clothes they wear. We are so quick to typecast women who prefer Indian clothes to Western wear as behenji, which also connotes things such as "small town", "uncool" and unfit to socialize with the denim wearing types who are supposedly more modern, hip and cool. For all you know, the so called behenji could be cooler, smarter and a more interesting person than a hundred jeans/shorts wearing women put together!

I see it around me all the time. Just yesterday I went to a new coffee shop that's opened in town, with a bunch of colleagues. Coincidentally, all of us were dressed in Indian attire. The owner of the cafe - a guy in his early 20s who looked like he was desperate to be picked up by a modeling agency - was going around the cafe taking feedback from people at different tables. He went to all the tables except ours. I was trying to figure out the reason he didn't come to us - there were quite a handful of us, we were ordering generously, so why was he not interested in our opinion? And then it hit me!

Everyone else at the coffee shop was dressed in Western wear! We were the only ones in salwar kameez. He would have easily classified us as 'behenjis', people who've strayed into his store and are not his target consumers anyway. Therefore, our opinion didn't mean much to him. If that was indeed the case, he didn't realize that he was actually alienating a section of his customers. A couple of people I went with decided not to go back to the cafe because they felt unwelcomed. And these people are coffee shop regulars. Lost business right there for our wannabe model friend.

Another thing that confounds me is how, in case of a problem/disagreement between a man & a woman, people (other women included) are quick to blame the woman, without even bothering to understand how much of the problem is caused by the man.

A relative of mine is in the process of getting a divorce, and all the women in my family, my dearest mother included, are busy pinning the blame on the poor girl. She never tried to adjust to her husband's family, she was too demanding of him in terms of helping out with the household chores, she was always very weird & uncooperative....on goes the list. Most of these people hardly even know the girl, yet they're quick to blame her for the disintegration of her marriage. It doesn't matter in the least that some of the issues they broke up over had been created by the guy, or that he was unwilling to compromise on certain things that were really important to the girl, or that his parents had unrealistic expectations from their daughter-in-law and were always interfering in the couple's lives and the way they managed their household.

Now, the in-laws - even though they are related to me I have no qualms admitting it - are very old-fashioned people. They don't expect her to be a slave to their son (thankfully!) but they cannot accept her as an equal partner in the marriage either. According to them, she should still be the one doing the cooking & other household chores, never mind the fact that she has an equally demanding career as her husband. She should not have an opinion on things, and even if she does, she should finally give in to her husband's choices & decisions.

These people (the in-laws), they haven't moved on with the times. They make no effort to understand that there are many more demands on people now than there were a couple of decades ago - both personally and professionally - and that people need to adjust their expectations from each other accordingly.

They still expect their daughter-in-law to take time off work and baby sit them when they're visiting, which is for two weeks at a time at least. They expect her to cook 3 meals a day for them everyday. If she suggests hiring a cook or going out for dinner/ordering in, she just doesn't care about them. If her husband helps her out with household chores - which is how it should be if both partners are working - she's making their darling son do all the housework. If they've moved to a bigger house or a better neighborhood, it's because she likes to waste money. Never mind that it was a mutual decision or that they're both splitting the rent.

Which brings me to the point - why do people behave so irresponsibly? Why bitch about someone you don't even know? You don't know anything about the relationship between the two people involved or the issues they're facing in their marriage, except the version you've heard from the boy's mother, which knowing her is positively biased, why blame the girl for everything?

Yes, sometimes people do need the daylights shaken out of them.


The knife said...

Well glad you didn't vent about people pressurising you to blog :) Jokes apart I find blogging quite de-stressing. I would even say I write to live. So pound away.

btw someone in Calcutta found you too deglammed? Wow things are changing in the village huh.

Go back. Order a black coffee. Accidentally spill it over the sofa if they are foolish enough to have one.

Your defence of 'Behenji' was quite apt on Raakhi

Scarlett said...

@Knife - I'd never vent about people asking me to blog :) Like with you, blogging is a means of de-stressing for me as well. Which is why I've sustained at it for so long. It's also why I rarely write on serious issues.

Coming to people in Cal finding me de-glam, well..there's quite a bit of style in this city. It just doesn't make it to Page 3 of Calcutta Times 'coz the stylish people have better things to do with their lives :)

On that particular day though, I was quite dressed down by my standards. It was a Monday after all, and these days I've kind of lost interest in dressing up to work. Motivation issue, I think :)

Moonshine said...

Well!!!The language thing is so not on!!! I find it very irritating.. in fact have asked people if they know hindi or not too pointedly!!! One of my friends deliberately talks in shudh hindi in front of such people.. saying things like chamacch chahiye etc!!! :)

The salwaar thing is very stupid.. in fact I remember someone telling me that she would not go to Nirula's (it was really hep back then) in a salwaar kameez.. how daft!!!!

Most men are condescending!!!! In fact I think all men are.. either women are treated as really unintelligent cases or credit is given to women in a way it seems we were never capable of thinking it in anyway!!! grrrrrrrrrrrrr

And all women are the root cause of making women feel guilty.. about not taking care of kids/ husbands..etc etc etc...

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - It's sad how society pressurizes people to conform. And more often than not, it's women who're dissatisfied with their lives, who try to make other women feel guilty for various things. It's jealousy and sometimes also a feeling of inferiority.

The knife said...

by the way does Ms Puri speak Marathi (evil laugh)

@Moonshine, hey we aren't that bad :)

aspriha said...

Its really good babe...i will read more of your blog at home

WSW said...

Agree with both your points...was just watching the Ms.Universe pageant yesterday and many of the countries used a translator. Just because they dint know english didnt take away anything from the oomph factor of those contestants but can you imagine a MsIndia not speaking in a fake accent :)
As for issue 2, as someone advised me keel patte pe gire ya patta keel pe..ched patte main hi hota hain!

Moonshine said...

@Knife On my worst days.. I get to hear the faint ones too!!! :)

Scarlett said...

@Aspriha - Please read. And contrary to what you think, I don't blog about food, fashion & fitness all the time. There's plenty of other stuff too! :P

@WSW - Beauty contestants from non-English speaking countries particularly European, Central American & South American countries, have been using translators for a long time at the Ms Universe/Ms World pageants. It's fine if a Ms India wishes to speak in English - if she's fluent in the language, why not - but sometimes they put on the weirdest of accents. Have you seen how Aishwarya Rai speaks these days? Her accent is from another planet only! Half the time I don't understand what she's saying.

BTW, thanks for dropping by :)

@Knife/Moonshine - I'm with Moonshine on this one :)