Girls and Their Right to a Career

Spicy Saturday Pick

Cover of "Daughter"

Spicy Saturday Pick


Post selected as a Spicy Saturday Pick in BlogAdda for 10-Dec-2011

Featured at Symptoms of Disempowerment on 22-Dec-2011.

Featured at Global Voices Online on 17-Dec-2011

Here is my 100th post on Merry Musings – and I wanted to take this time to write of a girl I know, who has been banned from having a career or joining a college course of her wish.

Ananya is a 17-year-old – a bright and wonderful girl. She is now in the 12th form at a Girls’ School. She lives with her Dad, Mom and a little brother.

Just like any girl about to embark into College has some ideas about the course she wants to pursue, Ananya too has some desires. She is extremely talented with her hands – stitching, fabric painting, glass painting, doll making – these are all crafts she excels at – as well as having great grades at school. Her ambition is to become an Interior Designer or Fashion Designer and would like to get into such a College course which will prep her for such a career.

However, her dad has different ideas. In spite of living in the 21st century, his mindset is still stuck in the 1900s. He thinks that girls are only good for being married off. His intentions about his daughter’s studies – to get her into the college next-door and enrol her in a useless course which will definitely not aid her in any way to get a job or become financially independent. And as soon as the course is complete, to get her married off! Convenient, isn’t it?

She is desperate – her Mom is sympathetic, but has no voice where her husband says that his Will is the Law in that house. Her dad is acting like a tyrant – even tries to get rid of her skin products like cleanser and moisturiser – just to make sure that his daughter does not fall into any traps and shame the family name by eloping or getting married outside the community. In fact that seems to be his only concern over his daughter.

Several have tried to change his mind, including his eldest sister who said, “A girl should be equipped to take a job if necessary. If not, she will be a slave in her husband’s home.” But all to no avail. So far, no one has managed to change his mind. Ananya dreads the day she completes her final exams in 12th grade. Then the countdown begins to the day of her marriage – along with the death of a talented girls desires and ambitions.

What do you think of a father who is only concerned about getting his daughter married off? Has he thought of how she will react if her husband turns out be as oppressive as her dad is?Or what if she is married and her husband dies – what will her Dad do then? Or if she is married to a guy who seemed to be perfect but turned out to be a nightmare? I know girls who have been in both situations and the only thing that saved them was that they had a job.

She is a rather modern girl, with a mind of her own. However, her wings are being clipped right now, to make sure that she has no chances of maligning the family name. I imagine it is a case of ‘Prevention is better than Cure.” I wonder why he bothered to teach her or even goad her on to get good grades in school. If he only wanted her to be stuck in a strange family’s kitchen, then he should just have let her stay at her mother’s side and learned the “domestic arts”.

Today she is crying and her pleas for help are falling on sympathetic ears who are helpless to change her dad’s mind. I can imagine what will slowly happen to this girl – either she will just succumb to her Dad’s pressure and agree to get married at the earliest possible opportunity, burying all her fond hopes of a career. Or when she starts college (at least that is definite – dad certainly wants his daughter to have a degree in hand, else her value in the marriage market will fall), she will have friends who will be sympathetic to her problems and offer advice, which in all probability may be the wrong ones, and may take some wrong turns in life. Or she may break free from the golden cage and follow her heart’s desire.

Fathers such as these are extremely myopic. They are only concerned about their duty to their daughters, namely to get them married off, and then it is all out of focus for them. They don’t even take view of the fact that their darling daughter will be the one to suffer because of their archaic thinking.

Dear readers, what do you think Ananya can do other than to submit to the will of the father?


Snapshots of Deepavali

And finally the day is here  – Diwali, also known as “Deepavali’ – The Festival of Lights.

On this historic day, Lord Rama vanquished the evil King Raavan, and returned triumphantly to Ayodhya. And in honour of this occasion, all of India celebrates it by cleaning out their homes, lighting lamps and being decked out in their finery.

There are pujas at homes and offices, gifts are exchanged, houses are decorated with lamps and lights  – kind of like the Christmas for Hindus.

Here are some pictures I snapped of Deepavali around me –

Prep for Puja

Prep for Puja

Puja at Office

Puja at Office



Sweets after Puja

Gift Box from Office

Gift Box from Office


How To Get Married In India

We Indians love everything large when it comes to a wedding – lavish garments and jewellery, pompous ceremonies, songs, dances, rituals and feasts. There is even a television programme called ‘The Big Fat Indian Wedding’ which celebrates this trend in India.

In this culturally rich land of rituals and taboos, how does one actually go about tying the knot? I mean, what is the process preceding the actual ceremony (You can read about what happens after the wedding here).

There are several ways to do this –

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Status Symbols in Today’s World

In the corporate world today, cellphones are more of a status symbol than a device to be used in case of necessity.

Listen to what a Mumbai-ite has to say about this development and how it is affecting his work-life.
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A Bull Visits Homes and gets Hooves Cleaned

The other day, while on the balcony coaxing Baby to eat his food, I observed a curious sight.

A decorated bull with smoke coming out from its forehead (later I realised that it had agarbathi sticks stuck to its forehead) was being led by a man to all the houses. At each gate, the man would take out his nadaswaram and play filmi and religious tunes.

At one home, a lady came out and started a weird ritual. She came out with a platter of fruits, coconut, water, vermilion, turmeric and a lamp (at least that is all I could see from my vantage point). She started off washing the bull’s hooves with the water, applying the vermilion and turmeric on its legs, rump and forehead, and then she started waving the lamp in front of the bull and chanting something. Then fed something to it.

Does anyone have any idea what this is all about?