Thursday, August 21, 2014

Someone wrote something about periods and I didn't like it.

So, it's time to make a few points about internet publishing. If you have a blog, like me and everyone I know, then please, by all means publish half a sentence a day. No one is going to critique the lack of wordage or even the lack of effort. However, when your writing is associated with blogs/webzines that people read and share online then kindly make an effort to make a point. Don't just sit there and collate some survey made by someone else and then peddle it online with your name on it.

I don't get that at all.

How do editors let that shit pass and how do people write this and feel like they've written something complete? I don't know, I don't understand. Maybe these things are too far beyond my miniscule imagination!

To being with, let us read the article I'm shitting on! Here it is. This article discusses a subject that is taboo in this country, and not surprisingly this topic relates to allthewomeneverywhere. In India, however, said subject/topic has it's own mythology, tantric explanations, supersitions, etc, as most woman-related things in India are wont to have.

Now, on the surface it seems like something well-researched, because it quotes an urban survey that was carried out with an audience of 1000-some mostly urban people, in a country with a population in the billions surverying a 1000-odd people and extrapolating this onto everyone else is a bit of a stretch if you ask me. That being said, the people who were surveyed conveyed most of the ridiculousness that Indian patriarchy associates with menstruation - a veiled disgust and discomfort. Not even menstruating women have any idea about how to deal with their periods. And it may seem pathetic, but it is true. After reading this article, I'm very grateful for the fact that when I started my period there was no talk of using cloth.

Back to the article.

It opens with a rather grand premise - the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech and the subjects he raised. Now, considering that our Prime Minister probably spent time thinking of a speech that reiterated all the promises made during election time and in the TV ads his party had commissioned, opening with what he said is problematic. What if the things he promised never get fulfilled and everything he said was just populist rhetoric? Let's not drag him into this, shall we? Let's stick to all the other people who interact with women more closely, like siblings, parents and spouses and other extended family.

After these promising opening paragraphs, it then goes into "Here are four graphs that encapsulate India's attitude towards periods". Now, you've said that Whisper (they of "have a happy period and P&G fame) and IPSOS has carried out this survey in which most respondents were from urban India (namely "cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad.") how on earth does this small demographic encapsulate such a large populace? And really, you couldn't take a minute to check what you were writing?  India's attitude? Really? Now, I know it seems like I'm nitpicking, but it is this kind of detail that makes all the difference. This article has so much potential to really get into the crux of the issue, but rather than take the trouble to at least make a dent, the writer chose to write a few fancy paragraphs and then just paraphrase a survery! 

The one person she has quoted in the article is a 29-year-old woman who owns a website relevant to this article, but not anyone else. Are there a lack of intelligent women to speak to in this country? How on earth do you just quote survey results and not talk to people who are also from urban India and who will have an opinion? Is it that easy to write an opinion piece these days? She didn't even mention the fact that until 2011 sanitary napkins in India had a 14% luxury tax attached to them. (not that it has made a difference to what they cost, apparently you still pay a premium irrespective of luxury tax!)

Then the ending - it all begins and ends with Whisper's new ad campaign. Like, seriously if you needed to give a P&G product free publicity, then you didn't have to cloak it in so much drama. I fail to grasp why you needed to quote a bigass company's campaign. Whisper did this touch the pickle thing around 15 years ago. If I remember the visuals correctly, it was a black and white video and a young woman held a ceramic pickle jar in her hand, she scooped a fingerfull of pickle and licked it with great relish. And there was some supposedly inspiring voiceover telling the menstruating demographic to please chill out and eat mango pickle if we wanted to.

While a company peddling overpriced necessities is giving us the same idea but 15 years later, I think it's on us to call bullshit and take a topic this relevant and turn it into a debate that will move away from free plugs for big corporates who don't need it.




Monday, August 18, 2014

On my long absence from blogging

It's been a while since I wrote something here. A while since I used this space to articulate the many things on my mind. I've been meaning to for a very long time now, but, I've intentionally stayed away.

For starters, I got married in December 2012. After years of bitching and ranting about it on this blog and to my friends and on Facebook and Twitter, I finally got married. My husband is an army officer. And it means the same everywhere, really. Long absences, coping with a lifestyle that can be overly overwhelming, coping with a routine that's sometimes truly and amazingly nuts, and living in houses that make you go  "WTF were they thinking when they built/painted/furnished it". See, in the Indian Army, you accessorise your homes, you don't, for the most part, sit on the sofas you bought so lovingly.

Anyway, I digress.

Since December 2012, I've been dealing with a lot, personally. One major thing being cohabiting with a man I met on a matrimonial website. Despite all the time we spent talking and getting to know each other, and hashing out what we identified as potential problems, and fighting over the negotiable and non-negotiable aspects of our relationship and the things we wanted, he was still a stranger who I had no real understanding of.

On some days, I felt like I was living in an alternate reality and this wasn't really my actual life. Those were the days when we fought. The rest of the time I kept thinking how familiar it was being with him and laughing at ridiculous slapstick Hindi comedy shows and being amazed at how similar our values were and how similar our sense of right and wrong was. It still didn't take away the blind panic I sometimes felt at this new relationship and this new loneliness I felt, being so far away from home and from the people I'd known all my life.

I've stopped working since I got married. A number of reasons for that - the army doesn't ask you to live at places where newspapers have active editions, I don't stay in a place for longer than two years (three years max), the kind of work I want to do is not easily available in places that are, for instance, 70kms away from a major city/town. I've dabbled with freelance work, but I'm shitty at following up or setting a routine for myself (as is evidenced by the lack of a published book but a folder full of half-written stories). For the most part, I decided that a work sabbatical was needed since I had so much coping to do. Classic escapism, but I think that it has been a good investment of my time. Now, I know that I'm ready to re-join the work force and not feel guilty about a damn thing.

Going from being the girl who lived with all her friends and family so close by and being able to travel any time to meet them and spend time with them to being the girl who lived in a remote army cantonment and managing with the resources available to me, has been immensely difficult. My husband tries to be understanding and supportive, but I think the only person who is capable of understanding what you're going through is you.

They say the first year of marriage is the worst. I don't know if this is a universal -ism or an -ism specificaly catering to an arranged marriage, but the first year was difficult and honestly the fact that my relationship survived it is thanks to timely interventions from friends and family. If it weren't for my friend Anjana, I honestly don't think I would have had the courage to examine what was going on and pull myself out of the blackhole I had summoned from nowhere!

What does all of this have to do with my blog?

Well, everything.

Blogging about my newly wedded 'bliss' would have been violating my husband's privacy, and as much as I love to talk about my life and everyone and everything in it, talking about my husband is something I don't think I should do. I don't mind harping incessantly about my feelings and so on, and any inferences made are really the reader's prerogative, but I will not under any circumstances initiate anything!

So, I've been on a leave of absence because blogging regularly would have meant giving in to the temptation of discussing my husband and I didn't want to do that. For any reason.

It's been 20 months since I've been married and I'm slowly getting better at dealing with things, and since I'm thinking of getting back to working, it's as good a time as any to get back to routine blogging as well.

 Here's to more nonsensical observations about life and everything else in general.

-Shruthi