Thursday, June 15, 2006
When I was in school I found all the sciences very boring, I liked the social sciences and enjoyed all the classes. I failed many a time in science, but my father realized I was intelligent and more of a free thinker, so he didn't care.(Unusual for Indian parents) So I failed high school because I went to study Maths, Physics and Chemistry only because my friends were in the class. But soon enough I realized that there were Literature, Civics and History classes and here I was totally disinterested in the organic chemistry class. I sat disinterestedly even during the final exams.
In my Bachelors, I took up Literature, Political Science and Psychology, life felt better atleast the arts allowed me to think in my own fiery way, there was room to accomodate atleast part of free thinking on most subjects especially Political Science.
In my Masters I took up "Communications" and here is where my personality was its best - Rebellious, Intelligent, Dodgy, figuring it out always. At University I was treated like an adult for the first time and the subject I chose allowed me to express my views academic or otherwise on anything. So the Masters was next to my ideal academic situation.
At the Ph.D level, it is you and your guide, the freedom to choose what you want to study and offer your own passion for a subject, insight and findings makes it the best academic degree to pursue. You try to develop original thoughts and try to look at the subject form various angles to suit or negate your study. This is what makes it interesting and your in command of your thoughts with a guide only to wade you through the maze of information that is available for choosing.Contrary to my free thinking I am a very disciplined and structured person, so organizing my thoughts is not that difficult. Guess I have the right mix of personality for a Ph.D. Also the time is a lot more than the usual 3 year or 2 year degrees.
I enjoy it!
Development Junkie | 3:14 AM | 3 comments | #
Thursday, June 01, 2006
"Saar", "Sirrr", "Saheb". We Indians are a society that gives much emphasis to age,hierarchy and seniority. It is expected of us. Since the British got us under their thumb, we have have been adressing our seniors and bosses as "Sir" - the word that has a colonial connotation.We address senior ladies as "Madam".
Times have changed in corporate offices your corrected for calling a senior as "Sir". Your reminded that "Sir" is passe."I am Jayaram, but you can call me Jerry." So honorifics are no longer the norm. But it gets confusing, because sometimes, we are reminded to call our seniors as "Sir".
For eg: My Mom, once a telephone operator called a Chief Engineer of the Railways as Mr. So and So. He was angry and complained to the office manager, that the lady in the office called him Mr.So and So. My Mom was pulled up and asked to call every one who called in, as a standard "Sir". She resented it.Even today reminds me of how parochial people are, wnating the title "Sir".
My Mom isn't alone, my grandaunt, once asked me "Why do you Sir everybody?". Today one of my friends said at her wing in the office everyone calls each other by first names and in my section of the office it was formal with Sir.She told me how "old fashioned" it sounded. She thinks "Sirring/Madaming" someone means your in a way subjected to be under them. And never be able to meet on equal ground.
In these globalaized times, all of us are comrades, there is a uniform equality that we all aspire for - hence first name basis. But the Indian workplace is still a mixture of the modern and the old. So I feel comfortable titling people from my boss to the cleaner as "Sir". It doesn't hurt to call anyone Sir, and those who don't like being titled tell me so.In the army campus that I live in, it is "Sir", "Mam" all the time, it is protocol. These titles spread a sort of "conformity" among the officers and their wives, which is necessary in military life.
I have observed that "Sir" is a potent word, it makes pople feel respected and powerful. Why destroy that for someone? I am not like my Mom and Grandaunt, they feel "Sirring" is outdated. The politics of colonial culture is to be blamed. The British left us with a lot of their formality. In this day and age we want to give it up, we're/want to be free to call each other by given names. Individuality is retained, or so people think.
But I will never give up adressing people by "Sir/Madam", unless they advice otherwise. It makes me feel more respectful of them and they seem to appreciate it.
Development Junkie | 9:45 PM | 5 comments | #
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Possible topic: - Any comments on mothercraft practices? With Immanuel sick these last few days it has been interesting to see similarities and differences in how mother's (and especially the health professionals) in India and Australia approach child sickness. Also, generally how families interact - what is the role of the mother and father, husband and wife and who should look after the child, what the child's role is (if any) in the family.
These questions also come up in films like Water (watched yesterday with Sharon and Emelia while Immanuel got some much needed sleep) where children are married off without even knowing, and John Abraham's character makes the comment that his father beleived in children being children or somehting to that effect. To me it seems the point of the film is to apply reasoning and responsibity to our actions even if we need to do so in the face of traditional practies.
From my observations within my own family, and from my husbands and the wider multi-cultural community in Australia, I beleive that the parents have such an important role to play in how they teach their children values and their future roles. In particular I think that mothers, as women, need to be aware of how they teach both their sons and daughters what a woman's role is. For example, many mothers in the Italian immigrant community in Australia spoil their sons rotten, not allowing them to lift a finger to help around the house or in the kitchen, and demand that their daughters do this instead. This teaches the daughters that their role is to keep men happy, and the sons also learn this is the role of the women. In many cases the sons do not appreciate the work of their mothers and sisters and do not learn respect for these women in their lives or understand the work involved in maintaining a house and looking after children. Apart from the expectations that the son carries into his next relationships, he also does not learn to be responsible for himself, and this limits him capcity as a human in many areas of his life.
While this has been very simply summarised, and each family is obviously different it saddens me to see in films and in my own family how children reap the rewards of parents failure to address relationship inequalities in their roles as husband and wife and parents lack of forethought in teaching their children the individual value of each person and the need to respect everybody, whether male or female -
I beleive that children need respect and responsibility and need to learn this also, whether girls or boys. The hope is that while each generation inherits patterns of relationships from their parents, they also have the opportunity to improve on them. I think I strayed from the mothercraft topic, but I would like to make a comment on mothercraft, that while we can learn valuable practices from our parents and especially mothers, and should value and appreciate their knowledge and experience, we must also be careful not to take this information for granted and be able to apply their knowledge in conjunction with our own; there are reasons for particular mothercraft practices that do not apply to current circumstances and may instead be harmful. On the other hand there are practises that will always be applicable, even if they have not been scientifically validated. The maxim that "mothers know best" is not always right and places the mothers knowledge and experience above reasoning, perhaps it would better be said that "mothers know a lot of things"!
Enough of my own comments - hope to see some of yours!
I hope for some of you to give me your comments on "Mothercraft Practices".
Development Junkie | 8:05 PM | 2 comments | #
Monday, May 29, 2006
Since I can't get to think of something to blog about, I'll sign off and come back tomorrow with another Indian cultural musing.
Development Junkie | 7:58 PM | 1 comments | #
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Unfortunately I haven't clubbed much, because I wasn't allowed to in my teen years and when I hit my 20's I lost interest because I believed the clubbers were trying hard to have fun and it was more of a be-seen place. I loved (still do) dancing but couldn't connect with the music they played, the trance. Just one line with repetitive synthesized beats.
I loved the more country n western and popular dance music , so I started to organize dance parties at home with friends and family. Even all girl dance parties while in college.
When I moved to Hong Kong for a year, I partied all night, at all the clubs on Lan Kwai Fung (The bar and club road in Central). I loved it, because the clubs were small and played live music on certain nights. It was a relaxed air while partying and downing beers.Because it was fine to party there culturally.
Today I have no time nor inclination to go clubbing, it is too expensive, too impersonal an environment to enjoy it anymore. Most clubs in India are located in the five star hotels, the few that are outside are expensive and most only the metro cities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Calcutta have them. Goa has many parties and clubs too. Of course visited only by the rich n' famous, curious youth, western tourists and the once in a while party goer.
I don't think India, will boast of many dance clubs at all except for Mumbai. Economic success of the 20 something BPO executive, even better awareness of dance music won't help. "Clubbing" has some notorius connotations linked to violence, gangsters and villains. Just have a look at Bollywood movies, the club is the battle ground of vice and moral decay. Hindu Fundamentalists believe "clubbing" to be a western notorius influence. Also maintaining a club is big money that even the wisest of business men don't enjoy getting into The Fire n Ice club in Mumbai had to be closed for ownership feuds. Only the European and American business men who can afford to juggle and trendspot the next dance music and club rave can take the chance.
What do people who aren't clubbers do:
Hire a DJ and rock at private parties, weddings and birthdays. At my wedding we had a Punjabi DJ and a make shift dance floor that was jam packed with our guests. That was as far a club as we will go.
If you can't get to a club, get the club home. Affordable DJ's who will play your type of music are your answer. Well there are silent revolutions on the dance club music scene here in India- Submerge.
Submerge was essentially born out of frustration. When we first began in 2003, it was because there was no alternative to the mainstream. No matter where you went, you got the same old music and the same tired experience.
So, we created a night that we could play the music that we wanted to hear, that we wanted to move to. We wanted to play the latest tracks from the global club scene because that’s we were into. It wasn’t about catering to the masses; it was about being on the cutting-edge of music, listening to the best in House and Progressive music.
"Submerge" DJ's travel all over the country to play their music at clubs, parties, pubs and other events.
For reviews of Mumbai night clubs: Click
Development Junkie | 8:07 PM | 3 comments | #
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Major P, has received his posting. We leave in July to go live in Meerut, a small town in India close to New Delhi the capital of India.
1. It is the oldest army cantonment in India.Was set up by the British.
2. Home to the Sepia Mutiny 1857 revolution.
3. Has some of the best sweet shops in India.
4. Is an extremely modern town with many multiplexes, malls industries and businesses.
5. Meerut perhaps has the largest number of gun shops in India ( P.L. Sharma Road ). Until a few years back you could still purchase gunpowder and gunshot for use in muzzle.
An Account of the Opening of the Indian Mutiny at Meerut, 1857
Meerut is an old town and has a lot of history attached to it,especially military history. It seems that it has all facilites that are available in a city. But is according to population density and area a classified industrial town.
I have never lived in a town , so this new experience will allow me to learn more about North Indian culture as well, which has for long been labelled as loud, aggressive and materialistic. To a large extent this is true, history has shaped the behaviour and attitudes of the North people.
North India was largely under attack from the Greeks, Afghans, Mongols, Persians and other tribes of the North-West frontier. Hence most families boasted of male warriors, making women strong and independent incase of war. As time went of the wars were over and business flourished therfore making the warrior a rich man, but always living by aggressive war tactics. Nevertheless I have been the recepient of generosity and warm welcomes at many of these homes.
I realize that small towns have a culture very different from that of the metros. An important step would be to understand the mindset of the town people. I am looking forward to this, bridging the cultural gap. We've always been subject to the simpleton "Town" girl, and the catty "City" girl in the media. Eg: India Calling a serial of a small town girl working in a call centre. Let me see if this a true representation. I am interested in watching how my "identity" gets transformed but survives the stress.
I am looking forward to the Nauchandi Mela, which is held in, March every year.
Uttar Pradesh is hard to beat for the things it produces- Lucknow's chikankari; Ferozabad's glassware; Kanpur's leather; Varanasi's silk saris… the list is endless. And if you want a one-stop shop to buy them, come to the Nauchandi Mela in Meerut. A historic fair, more than a century old, Nauchandi is a month-long extravaganza of great shopping, good food, and UP at its noisy best. The Nauchandi Mela begins on the second Sunday after Holi This is when Meerut becomes much more than just a small satellite town of Delhi, and takes on a glitter and vivacity which is highly infectious.
The history behind the Nauchandi Mela is debatable; some say that it began as a cattle fair way back in 1672; others suggest a British revenue-collection fair as the precursor of the mela. Many Hindu devotees believe that it began as a religious festival to commemorate the building of a temple in Meerut by Mandodari, the wife of the demon king, Ravana.