Monday, June 20, 2005


In the past few days, I've seen several pieces of completely unrelated, but fascinating bits of news in the paper, and I've been wanting to blog on all of them.
> Indians are declared the most avid readers in the world. Wish Oprah's research team would get her hands on items like this before doing a tete-a-tete with Ash. And instead of asking ' do Indians have sex a lot' she could ask 'do Indian read a lot'... which would also explain why we're brighter and sharper. But then I guess the inevitable question would be 'why is the country the mess it is'. Of course I'm still pissed that Ash didn't bother to highlight any of our achievements. Forget Kalpana Chawla, we have 13-year-old kids like Anurag Kashyap who win spelling competitions, we have other kids after whom celestial bodies are named...

> Breast feeding in public. There was a recent PIL in some European country filed by a woman who says she feels uncomfortable at the thought that people are uncomfortable looking at ehr breast feeding in public places, and that she is contantly asked to shift to a family section in stores etc. 'I can't help it if they can't differentiate form from fiction'. She also says she finds it bizarre that women are baring their breasts on Tv, in live shows, but it's not Ok when it comes to breastfeeding. As a result, many women are now opting to not breast feed and switching to bottled milk much earlier.
Personally, and I'm not talking from experience, I think I would be extremely uncomfortable at breast feeding in a public place or having someone breast feed sitting next to me at a restaurant or a bus. Maybe it's because we belong to a more conservative society, and women almost give up having a life for a while, at least till they're breast feeding, and I know that a lot of countries don't have the concept of help at home so women who want to venture out have to take their babies along, and well breast feed, but it's a bit odd to look at someone and then keep looking at them without being embarrassed or conscious. When you see a woman in a music video or a live dance, you 'expect' them to be clad in a certain way and you expect them to be baring some part of thir breasts or whatever, but when you just come across someone breastfeeding, it's a sight you are not expecting, which is why it results in shock or embarrassment. That is the basic difference so I don't think it's ok to expect people to differentiate form from function and accept that seeing breasts in both situations (in a live show and breastfeeding) is one and the same thing. That said, embarrassment will only go away if it becomes a common sight and hence, acceptable' as say holding hands or kissing in public almost is. And that will result in a more mature society, but India is definitely not ready for it. The women on the streets, the beggars, you will argue, they breastfeed in the open, but then they almost do not exist for most us, we half look through them, and in a recent study in Mumbai by an NGO, it was found that many of the city's poor are forced to use public space for private activities, which means there is a thin line dividing public and private space for them, but not for the rest of us. This debate on space, is any case, in a realm of its own. Interestingly, someone put it very succintly the other day; Delhi affords physical space; Mumbai affords mental space. Why the two are mutually exclusive, I don't know; why do we have to compromise one for the other?


Blogger Jabberwock said...

OH GOD woman, didn't expect a "rah rah Indiiyyyaaa" blog from you on your return after such a long break. "Indians read a lot"? Well, sure, but you have to be at book events to gauge the quality of what is being read, and how people here think they're literate because they've devoured two Paulo Coelhos.

And talking about achievements by Indians, I'm sure you could've done better than throw up the names of Kalpana Chawla and young Kashyap, both of whom are American for all practical purposes.

Try Narendra Modi. Now there's a true-blue/saffron/white/green Indian. Vande Mataram!

20 June, 2005  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

Am in consonance. Not with the maternal sense-of-shame part (which I agree is a social setup that can change once minds open). But with your big question: why must it be either-or?

Thankfully, people read -- the cornerstone of creativity. If kept simple and silly, whcih is teh idea really, people read like none other. They news items, non-news items, i liner notes, nmubers, hankies, blips, functions, forms, leaves, heaves, bottles, cups, fliers, teasers, woozy ads, swooshy ads, weblogs, dialogues, wax art, formal linguistics, gulli zubaan.... phew, everything.

The delicious irony: as things change, the public and private spheres get mashed.... so also the physical & metaphysical.

21 June, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This physical non-physical thing, some deep philosophy stuff?

Very inspirational blog, this

16 June, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mature society comes when we make it a mature society, writer-in-exile, and you are sure doing a great job I should say.

16 June, 2006  

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